Book Review: What Alice Forgot

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On the surface, this was a breezy, light-hearted romp about a woman who loses the last 10 years of her life via amnesia.

However, once I read past the first few chapters, I realized that it had more depth, though I found myself wanting more out of this book than it wanted to give.

The book’s overall message (to me) was that kids and shared memories are enough to hold a marriage together, even when both parties don’t change anything about themselves, but rather, just accept that such is married life. (And that sleeping with other people while separated is acceptable.  Why are you dating anyone when you’re just starting to get over a relationship, when you’re not even divorced yet?  What is wrong with being single for a while and getting your life back in order first?)

The premise reminded me of my own life, and how different I am at 37 than I was at 27–before marriage and a child–and how horrified I know I would feel to wake up at not only being married to a stranger, but a mother to a little one.

When I was in my twenties, I was rather la-di-da, but once I became a wife and mother in my thirties, it was as if I’d been under a spell that had finally broken.  It was as if something in me had snapped, and I realized I needed to get serious about my life.  My 27-year-old self wouldn’t recognize my 37-year-old self (though I think she would very much approve). 

Eerily, Alice’s progression very nearly mirrored mine.

I thought the mysterious Gina (or rather, the idea of her was more fascinating as she got so little screen time) could’ve been developed so much more, as she had such an influence on Alice.  However, I abolutely hated the parts told from Frannie’s point-of-view; her story (told through letters to her dead fiance) about her new boyfriend was boring as hell and added absolutely nothing.

The relationships Alice had with her husband and boyfriend did not interest me, as those men were crashing bores–bland, bland, bland.

Though I enjoyed Elizabeth’s story (told via letter to the even more mysterious “Dr. Hodges”), I didn’t like that her whole existence was dependent upon someone else’s.  If things hadn’t (magically) worked out in her favor, she would’ve never been able to get it together.

The ending, set 10 or so years into the future, was a nice touch, but rather unsatisfying, as there wasn’t a good case for it to end the way it did.  I felt like the book ended up being more of a “love conquers all” story than a self-love story of how a woman took an unexpected vacation from herself to become her best self.  

Overall, Moriarty gets a B-.  She did a great job characterizing the kids and some of the more minor characters.  I absolutely loved the idea about the giant lemon meringue pie made using construction equipment.

“Alice” just could’ve used a bit more editing and tighter writing.

 

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