All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Love Water Memory – Jennie Shortridge

on April 12, 2013

Love Water MemoryLove Water Memory
Jennie Shortridge
Simon & Schuster
2013, 336p
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Lucie comes to awareness when she’s up to her knees in the chilly waters in San Francisco Bay. She cannot remember who she is or why she is there and after a barrage of tests, she is waiting in a psychiatric facility for someone, anyone, to discover her identity and begin to unravel who and what she is.

Answers come in the form of her tall, handsome and kindhearted fiance Grady who has been searching for her in their home of Seattle. Despite the fact that Lucie wants to know things, she’s apprehensive about this man that she doesn’t know. Back in the perfect house in Seattle, looking at her designer clothes and shoes and staring at her bland diet, Lucie begins wondering precisely who she was. She doesn’t feel at all like this person that she’s finding out she used to be. She doesn’t know how to be this person, she’s not sure if she can ever be this person that Grady loves, ever again.

Lucie’s searching for the answers and she’s furious to discover that in a misguided attempt to protect her, Grady has been hiding things from her. Lucie sets out to talk to her only remaining relative, seeking the answers for so many questions. But the past can be a very dangerous thing to poke – you never know what you’re going to unlock. For Lucie, in order to unlock the mysteries of her mind and why it shutdown, she must face something that she has buried deep within her psyche. It’s not going to be easy and Lucie doesn’t know what will come out at the end of it. Can she ever love the man whom she was going to marry in this previous life of hers? And will he be able to accept this new her, the one that is nothing like the old one?

I got a promotional email about this book from NetGalley and skipped off immediately to request it because of course, it contains one of my favourite things – amnesia story! I’ve read  three of them relatively recently, all of them quite different. Two were contemporary romances but differed in that in one it was the female character who had the amnesia but in the other it was the male character. This one is more concerned with a mental trauma, an incident that occurred in Lucie’s past that led to her “dissociative fugue”.

I can’t think of many more frightening things than not knowing who you are and having people that you don’t know come to take you home. In this case, the only person Lucie seems to have is her fiance Grady so essentially she has to go home with a strange man and live with him. Once she gets there, she learns that the person she was feels very alien to her. Lucie discovers a sweet tooth but apparently pre-amnesia Lucie never touched anything sweet. The hoardes of make up, clothes and shoes mean she was obviously someone who cared an awful lot about her appearance but new Lucie can’t be bothered with all of that. She and Grady tiptoe around each other – Grady because he’s terrified that Lucie will leave him again and Lucie because she doesn’t know how to relate to him. It seems that each time one of them wants to reach out, something happens to make the other wounded. And when Lucie finds out that Grady has been keeping things from her (not maliciously, more out of a desire to cater to the thoughts and feelings of the pre-amnesia Lucie) then she’s furious. She finally gets the truth out of him about what happened the day she ran away and that combined with the information Grady has been keeping from her provide what she needs to begin unlocking the closed doors of her memory.

I quite enjoyed the story of Lucie discovering that she didn’t really like the person she had been before her amnesia. She didn’t like her taste in clothes, felt oddly about her hairstyle and make up and when she gets home to her house in Seattle, she discovers that she wasn’t at all neighbourly either. When new-Lucie makes attempts to be friendly, others respond with amazement and downright suspicion. It seems that Grady doesn’t particularly know how to be around her either – at first Lucie thinks he might be hiding a lover but he’s hiding something much bigger than that.

I felt so sorry for Grady – the reader is treated to his point of view in the book too so quite often you get a sense of his love for Lucie but he has a hard time being able to express it. Partially I think, because of old-Lucie and also because of what happened the day she left. Grady operates in fear that she’s going to leave again, to disappear. His attempts to give her space, to acquiesce to her wishes often leave new-Lucie feeling as though Grady is indifferent to her. And the few times she does reach out to him, something happens to make it more of a set-back than a way forward. I’d have liked a little more focus on their feelings for one another – we do get Grady’s feelings for the first Lucie very strongly but his thoughts on new Lucie are more guarded. And in reverse, new Lucie muddles through her feelings for Grady but we don’t really get how first Lucie felt about him and the original attraction from her point of view.

I think that the exploration of Lucie’s mental trauma felt a bit rushed as it was more towards the end. She seemed to gather the information she required rather quickly and from that it was a simple step to connect it all and suddenly unlock everything that she had filed away so grimly. There’s no doubt what happened was traumatising and it was easy to see how a teenager might block that out. However I was surprised at the way her guardians, her uncle and aunt, tried to deal with it when she came into their custody. I honestly expected that given their earlier history, that they’d have done a lot more for her to see that she was mentally sound. It felt like they let her down a little, not out of lack of caring for her, but probably out of a lack of understanding at what such a thing could do.

Love Water Memory was a very easy book to become involved with even though it’s often hard to connect with a character who doesn’t know who they are. I felt for Lucie though, as she tried to piece together her information and discover why she could not relate to the person that she had been. And I really liked Grady as a character and the struggle that he went through as well.


Book #88 of 2013


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