By Liane Moriarty
Genre: Realistic Adult Fiction
Major Themes: amnesia, memory, family, divorce, being yourself, infertility, love
Age: 17+ for not only the writing style, but for mature themes including divorce, infertility, and amnesia which could be sensitive for younger kids and not well understood. This is meant to be an adult novel, and I believe that it is such for a good reason
Smiles Book Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
What Alice Forgot is a book about a woman named Alice who develops amnesia after hitting her head on the floor at the gym. The last thing she remembers is being 29, pregnant with her first child, and desperately in love with her husband. Therefore, it is a shock to learn that she is actually 39, getting a divorce, and the housewife mother of three children. The book follows Alice through the months following her terrible accident, as she attempts to hide the fact that she has forgotten everything from her children, family, and friends.
To further complicate matters, the “old” Alice (the one she remembers being) and the “new” Alice (the mother who she actually is) are two completely different people. Old Alice was fun, always willing to try something new, and absolutely carefree. New Alice is rich, a bit snobby, and comes across as cold-hearted. Navigating these confusing, conflicting emotions prove to be very difficult for Alice, and you find yourself cheering for her throughout the book as she achieves small victories for herself. She is a very likable character (although somewhat irritating at times, although aren’t we all) and while reading the book you come to want her to have the best she possibly can in life.
Arguably the second most important character in the book is Alice’s older sister, Elisabeth. Elisabeth, although she has always wanted to have children, is infertile, going through IVF treatments constantly. As a result, she has become increasingly unhappy, and is unsure how to continue going about her life. She is on the brink of collapse, and it doesn’t help that her younger sister managed to have three children (two of which were “accidental”) and then stop supporting her at the same time. When I read the book, I hated Elisabeth, because she was extremely pathetic and whiny, always wanting what she knew she couldn’t have. However, she went through a lot in her life, and I actually think her reactions were most likely appropriate for someone in her situation. You can judge that for yourself.
Alice’s three children, all with their own distinctive personalities that I think make their family situation very relatable since, from my own experience at least, they are pretty true. Madison, the oldest, is moody and complains a lot, hating the fact that her parents are getting a divorce. It isn’t all bad though– she’s a great cook. Tom, the middle child and only boy, is exactly what you would expect, crazy and wild, but warm and kind as well. And Olivia, little Olivia, is super sweet to everyone, an angel child, except for when she turns into the devil. But Alice doesn’t remember anything about them, and that makes for a complicated situation.
Frannie, Alice’s stand-in grandmother, Gina, the mysterious friend that Alice seemed to love but knows nothing about, her mother, her ex, and her ex’s father, Dominick (the principal and… her boyfriend?) the parents of her children’s friends… she is expected to know them all.
This book was very, very good. All of the characters were thoroughly developed, and there wasn’t a chapter where you were bored or it was repetitive. Moriarty managed to describe each character with finesse while creating an epic plot that I promise you will not forget quickly.
Favorite quote from the book that I can’t help but put here (it’s a rough quotation)
“I’ll know when you get your memory back.”
“Because of the way you look at me”
I HIGHLY recommend this book to read, it’ll make you laugh, cry, and scream in frustration, but it will be worth it, I promise.
If you have read the book, or when you do, please share your opinions below, I would love to hear them!
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