Monday, August 29, 2011
What Alice Forgot ~ Liane Moriarty
If I ever have to suffer a head injury with memory loss (and I pray I don't!) this is how I'd want to do it. Alice's story made me laugh, cry and I laughed until I cried - it was that good.
When we first meet Alice, it's 1998 and she is waking up to another lovely day of life in her fixer upper with her charming and somewhat goofy husband, Nick, teetering on the edge of 30 while expecting their first child together. Life. Is. Good. The only problem? That's not reality. She's actually waking up on a sweaty gym floor surrounded by people she doesn't recognize with a massive headache she can't explain. Once she fully comes too, she's shocked to learn that it's actually 2008, she's almost 40, her life is not exactly as she thought it was AND she can't remember the past 10 years of her life. One of the funniest things (in the beginning) is how upset she is to learn that she's a) so skinny, and b) in.a.gym! - she loathes exercising! She also keeps insisting to everyone that she's pregnant (which she was in 1998) and the different reactions are interesting.
As her day progresses Alice learns that she has apparently changed into this "new Alice" and nothing about her relationships, with her husband, sister or friends is the same as she remembers. She also can't understand why people are reacting to her they way they are and it's both funny and heartbreaking. One minute you find yourself crying tears of laughter because of how absurd her situation is and then you feel awful for her the next.
How horrible would it be to truly not remember 10 years of your life? For example, she learns she has kids (3 of them!) but she doesn't know who they are. She only remembers being pregnant with her oldest but not any of their births, first steps, first words, etc. How devastating for both parent and child. When she discovers that she's in the middle of divorce proceedings with Nick, she's devastated but can't get anyone to explain to her why? They keep telling her that once her memory comes back, she'll know why. All she remembers is how much she loves him and he loves her. Their first conversation after her accident is hysterical! (I'll never think of paprika the same way again.)
Elisabeth, Alice's older sister has had in on going struggle with infertility and one of their conversations is about adoption. When Elisabeth is explaining to Alice an argument they had days before her accident (one Alice obviously doesn't remember) about how she'd suggested adoption and that she'd used the example of the Angelina and Brad and all of their adopted children, Alice listens intently. They go back and forth for awhile with Alice apologizing for interfering. Just when you feel like real healing is taking place between these sisters, this happens...
They were silent for a few seconds. Alice said, "Are Angelina and Brad friends of yours?"
Elisabeth snorted. "Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. You've forgotten all your celebrity gossip, too."
"I thought Brad Pitt was engaged to Gwyneth Paltrow."
"Ancient history. He's married and divorced Jennifer Aniston since then, and Gwyneth has had a baby called Apple. I'm not kidding. Apple."
"Oh." Alice felt unaccountable sad for Brad and Gwyneth. "They seemed happy in the photos."
That was funny to me on so many levels! This is the kind of humor author, Moriarty weaves throughout the entire book. It catches you off guard like a breath of fresh air.
Alice slowly begins to get snippets of her memory back and she starts to realize that she doesn't just look different on the outside but on the inside too. She's not sure anymore if she really wants to remember the years she's lost, especially if they were painful. Those around her, who've known her the longest are starting to enjoy having the "old Alice" back but are also in limbo because even though she's lost the past 10 years, they haven't. It's interesting to watch the story unfold and how the relationships are affected. I loved the ending. I felt it was smart and realistic. I would love to see this as a movie someday.