What would happen if you were visited by your younger self, and got a chance for a do-over? Alice Love is 29 years old, madly in love with her husband, and pregnant with their first child. So imagine her surprise when, after a fall, she comes to on the floor of a gym (a gym! she HATES the gym!) and discovers that she's actually 39, has three children, and is in the midst of an acrimonious divorce. A knock on the head has misplaced 10 years of her life, and Alice isn't sure she likes who she's become. It turns out, though, that forgetting might be the most memorable thing that has ever happened to Alice.
©2011 Liane Moriarty (P)2011 Penguin Audio
I loved the main character and her story but I was so annoyed with the side stories about the sister and grandma writing their letters. when it got to those parts I just wanted to
get back to the main story! You will find yourself rooting for the Love Family...even up until the last chapter I wasn't sure how it would end.
Though this wasn't my favorite Liane Moriarty book, I can't deny that the woman can write. I love the elements of mystery that she adds to her books, and I think the way she builds a story is really addictive. What Alice Forgot had some flaws, but it was worth a listen.
Let me start with the more innocuous criticisms...
First, I didn't think that Frannie's letters really added anything to the story. The story could have been more captivating and quick-paced, but there were some slower and slightly boring parts (like these letters) that dragged it down a bit. Also, I just had a hard time liking Nick. I get that amnesiac Alice thinks he hung the moon, but current Nick seems like an arrogant, self-absorbed jerk. And I didn't see enough character development with him to really change my opinion as the book progressed. Also, in terms of character development, I really don't get all the reviews that praise the complex and unique personalities that Moriarty created for the three children. They were typical, ancillary child characters who I didn't really get to know nor get to care much about. I think this is in stark contrast to the wonderful job she did developing the characters of the children in Big Little Lies (Ziggy and Abigail in particular).
Now for the more frustrating, glaring issues I struggled with while listening to this book...
Okay, a woman has lost 10 years of her memory and, though she doesn't go around wearing that fact on a sandwich board, it seems that everyone around her continues to forget and/or ignore this. I got really tired of people assuming she remembered stuff that happened over the past few years even though her amnesia had been made clear to those around her. Everyone seemed to assume that it was perfectly normal to expect that Alice's life -- in its current state -- would just continue on as usual despite her memory loss. The hospital nurses and doctors didn't even seem very alarmed by her 10 YEAR loss of memory. She didn't even make a follow-up appointment. I really hope I'm not wrong when I say that seems incredibly unrealistic. Nick is told, over the phone, that Alice has lost 10 years of her memory. Yet, he still seems totally okay with dropping his kids off with her, alone, without even so much as a check-in with her (and her sister) about her cognitive state before doing so. There were just so many times that I wanted to scream at the characters to take this more seriously.
Finally, and perhaps most controversially, I had an issue with the dramatic implied shift in Alice's personality from age 30 to age 40. We are to assume that she went from being a go-with-the-flow, laid back, non-feather-ruffling little idealist to a harsh, precise, incredibly type-A alpha-mom. Now, I get that having kids and experiencing relationship shifts and changing social roles would likely cause one's personality to alter to some degree. However, implying that a person's fundamental temperament would change that drastically from age 30 to age 40 is highly unrealistic. As a developmental psychologist, I just couldn't get behind that implication.
As the book took place in Australia, it was nice to hear it narrated by an Australian. I think this made it easier to become immersed in the story.
The story is one of the best I've listened to yet! Comparing it to other Liane Moriarty books, it is one of her best. Tamara Lovatt-Smith is a strong narrator and serves this story perfectly. I love Caroline Lee and her narration of Moriarty's works, but Lovatt-Smith's gentle, quiet tone fits this story perfectly.
The story itself is such an amazing concept - What would you do if you suddenly lost 10 years of your memory?! Moriarty crafts a great story with Alice as the lead as she navigates her current life, even when she doesn't remember it. There's also a secondary story as Alice's sister Elizabeth struggles with infertility. You feel sympathy for these two characters and you just want things to work with them. Guided by Lovatt-Smith, I was cheering for them as well as the other characters in the story!
Without spoiling it, we learn what happens to Alice and Elizabeth after the main events of the story...and it seemed a natural ending for the characters.
She is a narrator whose voice sounds like a comforting, warm blanket. She deftly handled the story.
My only qualm with the story is the fact that whenever Alice meets and old friend for the "first" time, she doesn't start the conversation with "I lost my memory from the past 10 years...catch me up." Obviously, that would take away from the suspense and drama as she peels away and figures out how her life has changed, but it was a bit frustrating. Same goes for the characters who kept reminding her that she should know something, when they knew she didn't...but again, it serves the story and takes us along the emotional path as we, the reader, unravel Alice's life with her.
This book had so much to say about love, time, loss and grief, expectation, and family. I feel like I gained perspective on my own life and heart. I also felt the writing was more vibrant than her other novels. I highly recommend this book. I can't emphasize enough how beautiful and meaningful it was.
I enjoyed listening to the discoveries Alice made. The way she viewed her life after her injury was so different that we learned how she had changed over time.
The beginning was a rush and very emotional. I felt frustrated and upset for Alice. Then it started to become more wooden and boring. I also feel that the ending was rushed.
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
It ended rather abruptly. During the epilogue, she mentioned that she and Nick were only separated for a year and barely touched on their reunion. I wish the main story included that. I would have loved to read all the details about the breakdown of her relationship with Dominick and her eventual realization that Nick was The One. Such an important life event did not deserve a rushed mention during the epilogue.
I struggled to keep going for about the first half of the book. I'm glad I did because it definitely got better and I enjoyed the 2nd half very much. I would rate 3.5 stars if possible but can't go to 4 due to slow beginning..
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