Thursday, July 12, 2007

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac - Gabrielle Zevin

After a fall that causes her to forget the past four years, Naomi must figure out who she really is. She forgets about her parent’s divorce. She forgets her mom remarried and had another kid. She forgets her friends. She even forgets her boyfriend Ace – and why she liked him in the first place. She tries to go through the motions like nothings changed, but it isn’t really working. Especially since she can't stop thinking about that other boy…The moody handsome boy with a dangerous reputation who told her he once wanted to kiss her.

This book was fantastic. It was amazingly well written. A central theme that runs through the book is what makes a person who they really are. Are we still the same person if we don’t have retain our memories? Will we like the same people? Have the same interests? Act the same way we always have?

Naomi wakes from her injury with no knowledge of the past four years. She’s forgotten major family dramas, like her parent’s divorce (and why they divorced – a very painful reason that led to an ugly divorce), she’s forgotten her best friend Will (and what they did together that complicated their friendship), she’s forgotten her boyfriend (He’s hot, but has assaholic friends and an obsession about her ponytail). So she’s got a lot to relearn. She’s depending on gut instinct to lead her to decisions. And she’s finding it hard to be the person that people seem to think she should be. Along the way she really struggles with expectations, both internal and external. She's always too cold, an unfortunate side effect of head trauma. She misses her mom, but feels like she should still be angry at her - even if deep down she knows she's not. She acts poorly and lashes out because of her frustration at not knowing anything at all about people who seem to know everything about her.

Naomi is a richly drawn character. And because she narrates the story, you are completely inside her head for the entire book feeling her shock, anger, frustration, and eventually her healing. The book follows her attempts to figure out a new life for herself, to find her place in the world, to regain her memory, and to reach a place where she can be happy.

The other characters were equally well developed. Will, her best friend will have you wishing you knew him in real life. A best friend who is makes mix CDs and is passionate about year book picture equality. James, the moody dark boy she falls for will have you thinking he’s a typical tragic romantic hero, but he throws a few curve balls along the way. And even her boyfriend Ace, the tennis player who could easily be a stereotype, turns out to be more than you thought he would be.

A fantastic book. I think I even liked it better than Elsewhere and that was a great book. Its got a pub date set for late August according to Amazon.


joanna said...

When I first started reading this book (shortly after Patti's review) I could not put it down. It was THE BEST 2007 book I read this year. I wanted to jump online and write another rave review because I thought it deserved more space on this blog.

But then my feelings changed, sharply, and I regretted staying up until 1 a.m. reading it. Yes, it's extremely well-written. The character of Naomi and her story are believable and fascinating. There were so many moments where I thought Gabrielle Zevin just nailed the language and feelings.
Unfortunately, I had a major hang up with the character of Will that I’m sad to say I have not gotten over. And not liking Will kind of throws the whole story off.

To me, Will was patronizing. A smoking jacket? Ugh. The holier than thou music knowledge. Ugh. Always trashing James. Ugh. Being so darn single-minded with yearbook. Double ugh. He’s in love with Naomi, I do understand that. I just could not connect with him in a sympathetic way.

Patti said...

That's so funny, I didn't mind the smoking jacket - I thought it was pretentious, but it didn't bother me. It was his schtik. How he tried to set himself apart. Now, I've never known anyone who wore a smoking jacket, but i've known lots of kids who wore equally silly things in the quest for being unique and different.

I also didn't mind the year book obsession. I thought it had more to do with wanting to hold onto something Naomi and him had in common and so if he could make her realize how much they had enjoyed working together and what a great team they were that maybe it would work out romantically with them.

Now the mix CD thing was a bit too High Fidelity for me, but I overlooked it. And some of them, like the video compilation were really sweet.

And I also found it annoying that he trashed James (who i really liked, even when he totally lost it and he was no longer so dark and mysterious), but it ended up backfiring for him. Which it usually does in real life too. So all in all, I still really liked him. I thought his personality quirks were endearing.

I'm sad you didn't like this as much as me!!

Anonymous said...

do any of you have the ebook of it that you could email me...i looked everywhere and can't find it in the city where i live :(