Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac – Gabrielle Zevin

“Above all, mine is a love story.
And like most love stories, this one involves chance, gravity, a dash of head trauma.
It began with a coin toss.
The coin came up tails; I was heads.
Had it gone my way, there might not be a story at all. Just a chapter or a sentence in a book whose greater theme had yet to be determined. Maybe this chapter would have had the faintest whisper of love about it, but maybe not.
Sometimes, a girl needs to lose.
When Naomi hits her head and wakes up in hospital it appears that her memory of the last four years had gone. She can’t remember anything that has happened since she was 12, but she knows she can’t be twelve still. She doesn’t know that her parents are divorced, that she has a sister, a boyfriend, or a best friend who’s a guy. She knows nothing but when she gets back to school she tries piecing everything back together and not a lot of it makes sense. It would appear that she would be happier not knowing what happened, but would she?

***
Upon finishing Gabrielle Zavins’ previous book, Elsewhere, I knew that this one I couldn’t let go unread. The idea of the book sounded amazing and if the writing of Elsewhere was anything to go off Memoirs of a teenage amnesiac was going to be fantastic. I’m so glad that I realised as soon as I started reading that this is the case and yet again Gabrielle Zavin delivered something special that got my heart beating.
I’ll start off with the story… When faced with the past four years of life missing Naomi basically just has to pick up where she left off. Nothing much can change, her boyfriend, dad, best friend, mum and life are all the same, people haven’t forgotten her, she’s just forgotten them, and herself. She knows nothing about herself, what books she’s read for the past four years, why she likes tennis, the yearbook, even why she likes her boyfriend. Things are strained and life pretty much sucks, she isn’t the same person, because she never knew that person, and relationships become strained. I loved the way that this story allowed for Naomi learning about herself as a person and her friends and family. I liked that it allowed her a clean slate even though she probably didn’t need one, its sometimes a good thing to have. I wasn’t sure when I started reading how I wanted the book to pain out; I didn’t know if Naomi would get her memory back, or when, if she did, and that’s something I really liked about the story know I’ve read it. What happened seemed natural and real and I liked how it played out.
The story isn’t just about losing memory though, its about friends and love and family. Its about acknowledging exactly what you want for yourself and growing as a person, something I thought Naomi did well. I have recently read Forget You by Jennifer Echols which was a similar story but the character only lost around 24 hours of memories. I think I preferred the way it was all handled in Memoirs better to be honest and I think Zevin’s writing is the reason for this.
The writing grabbed me from the start, that extract above is the very first page and I loved how it told so much but at the same time, so little! This book was like a flower, and reading it is like watching that plant grow from a seed. I loved it.
The characters were interesting enough to keep my attention and decipher that they all had their own personalities. I liked that you got a glimpse into how Naomi’s parents were feeling and their personalities and I really liked Naomi’s Dad. I loved Will and thought he was really quirky, he reminded me a bit of the “friend” characters in the Brat Pack movies, like Duckie from Pretty in Pink. I also loved James, he was messed up, but who isn’t and I loved his outlook. James was another character that you witness growing, and I loved him even more for it. Naomi, well, I really liked her. I’ve seen people suggest that she was selfish and moody and things in reviews of this book but I actually thought she was a really strong character and had a right to be like she was. I think I’d be pretty mood swingy if I lost the last 4 years of my life! The one thing I didn’t like about her was how stubborn she was and how she didn’t even care about blowing up at Will after she found out what she’d said to him was awful. I thought that was selfish and wasn’t right. But anyhoo…
I only gave this story 4 stars and that’s because however much I loved the ending, I saw it coming a mile off and I thought it could have been a bit better executed. I thought that what happened was right but with a few tweaks it could have been perfect. It’s just a minor thing though and I really did love this book, it’s a must for any teen bookshelf!
Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac is Gabrielle Zevins second YA novel and was published in 2007 by Bloomsbury. My copy was purchased.
  • I love the sound of this, I like books about memory and amnesia a lot.

  • I agree that this is a must for any teen bookshelf, I loved it! Great review, I love the description of it being like a flower you watch growing from a seed.