All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

What Alice Forgot – Liane Moriarty

on July 13, 2010

My recent impulse buy, based on the blurb on the back cover. I picked it up on Saturday and was done on Sunday. It was a really engrossing read. The book opens with Alice coming to after taking a fall in her gym and knocking herself out. She’s confused, thinking of cream cheese (she’s not sure why) and whether or not she should be eating it while she’s pregnant. When she opens her eyes, she’s surprised to find the face of her friend standing over her, looking older than she remembers. She’s also skinny – far skinnier than she remembers.

Alice is taken to hospital where she discovers that it’s not 1998, like she thinks it is. It’s actually 2008 and she’s not pregnant anymore. She’s the mother of three children, none of which she remembers anything about at all. She’s also separated from her husband Nick and going through a very ugly divorce and custody battle. Also, it seems that she’s no longer close to her sister Elisabeth.

She can’t understand why her and Nick would’ve split up. Ten years ago, in the real 1998, there was nothing they couldn’t have worked through. She is baffled by her 2008 gym-junkie self, her designer clothes, her make up, her groomed looks. She discovers she’s one of those mothers that helps out at the school, runs charity events and co-ordinates Kindergarten Cocktail Nights. And just who is this mysterious ‘Gina’ that everyone refuses to talk about, all sidelong glances with each other and changing the subject.

It’s hard to review this book without giving stuff away. What I liked about it was the exploration of change – how Alice woke up thinking she was still one person, to find out that she was entirely another. How she remembered her loving husband, only to be faced with a barrage of abuse delivered in an icy tone down the phone. How she remembers her mother as a woman who was so introverted she could barely step outside, who now teaches salsa dancing. No one is as she remembers them – especially herself. It’s a journey of finding out what happened during those 10 missing years, of remembering the moments that shaped the person she has become. She wants to try again with Nick, as she remembers only loving him, and none of the bitterness that is becoming evident of the norm in 2008. Nick, it seems, is skeptical, claiming that once she remembers, she’ll regret wanting to reconcile. But he agrees and at that moment, it seems like he has never really wanted the separation. Their reunion is complicated slightly by the fact that 2008 Alice has a boyfriend, the principal of her children’s school, Dominic.

Only one thing really detracted from my enjoyment of the book and that was the ending. I’m not a fan of a book that ends when X happens and then skips forward 10 or so years into the future and goes so here’s what happened in the 10 years we skipped, in less than a paragraph, but also, explaining nothing. I’m nosy, so I don’t like having a decade, or whatever the skipped number of years was, wrapped up so vaguely and with nothing really explained. That was my only real complaint about the book.

Other than that I found the characters enjoyable and likable. One of the things I found most amusing was Alice’s complete lack of idea of how to mother her children, who were school age. Having only remembered being pregnant, she has no idea what she allows them to do, what their routines are, what type of mother she has become. It made me think of how I would cope if I suddenly woke up and lost 10 years of my life and thought I was 18 again. How would I go about day-to-day life with my toddler with no knowledge of his routine? To not remember having given birth to him, brought him home, seen his first smile, his first attempt at crawling, his first steps. That was a disturbing feeling.

A pretty enjoyable read overall, just wish the ending was a bit more neatly and tightly done.


(Book #41 of my 50 Book Challenge)

6 responses to “What Alice Forgot – Liane Moriarty

  1. Shannon says:

    I think you mentioned this book a couple of weeks ago and I thought it sounded interesting then – it sounds almost like something Jodi Picoult would write? Anyway it sounds like a good read so I just ordered it! Thanks 🙂

  2. Probably less depressing than anything Picoult would write! But it was a decent read, hope you enjoy it!

  3. […] Kinsella Leave a comment I said in my Library post that this book sounded very similar to What Alice Forgot. What I didn’t realise was just how similar until I started reading. The comparisons are […]

  4. I like the sound of this book – I keep seeing it around the blogosphere but haven’t read the blurb yet. I think I might pick this one up.

  5. If you liked Remember Me? then I think you’ll like this too. Less comedy but still quite well written.

  6. […] Jaclyn Moriarty, Victorian Premier's Reading Challenge 1 A few months ago I read a book called What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty and I think I was talking to Shannon from Giraffe Days at the time and she said […]

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