⇒“Each memory, good and bad, was another invisible thread that bound them together, even when they were foolishly thinking they could lead separate lives.” —What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty⇐
Author: Liane Moriarty
(4.08 stars – Goodreads rating)
Genre: Fiction / Contemporary Adult
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: May 2012, by Berkley Books
488 Pages (Paperback)
Triggers: infertility, sudden death, divorce, infidelity, memory loss
Young Alice was a fool. A sweet, innocent fool. Young Alice hadn’t experienced ten years of living.
In this clever, sad, and funny book, Alice Love loses ten years of her memory. As I closed the book after its epilogue, I thought about all the things I wouldn’t remember if the same thing happened to me. Well, let’s be clear, the same thing wouldn’t happen to me because you’d never catch me in a torturous spin class, which is what led to all of Alice’s troubles in the first place! So, let’s say instead, what if a similar thing happened to me? Like, what if I hit my head while trying to retrieve that pesky hanger from behind the washing machine? Or while trying to execute one of those insane TikTok dances with my daughter? What? Stop laughing! It could happen.
But really, there’s a lot of stuff that I’d miss. I’d still think my daughter was two years old and I wouldn’t remember how clever and capable she has grown up to be (or that she is now completely potty trained!). I’d still think that I was in that horribly uncomfortable place in my marriage where we were just separating and I didn’t know that I was really already divorced and everything has turned out rather well. I wouldn’t remember that my mother had passed away, or that I’ve been working a new job for the past 3 years, or that I even started this blog. All the little nuances of my current life would have just disappeared. How would I handle that? How would you? Let’s see how Alice did it.
Here’s the blurb…
Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child. So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes. Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over.
But maybe every life looked wonderful if all you saw was the photo albums.
What Alice Forgot is a book that I meant to read several years ago. I added it to some month’s TBR a while ago, got behind (probably reading some NetGalley title) and then… well, forgot about it. Fitting, right? But now that I’ve finished it, I have that familiar reader’s guilt, “I really should have read this long ago.” Because it is a perfectly fine book that didn’t deserve to be left on the shelf neglected and forgotten all this time.
Alice turned out to be a lovely reading companion as she shuffles us through her broken memories, broken marriage, broken friendships, and her generally broken life. She is like a lamb learning to walk again, and we are partners with her in learning to put everything back together again.
I mentioned a lot of brokenness, but Alice’s story (and those of her extended family as well) is not all doom and gloom. There are genuinely touching moments, a whole buttload of self-discovery, and plenty of hilarious points along the way. May we all have the moments of clarity that Alice discovered to make us better people – just not without the head knock, thank you very much.
Relationships don’t stay the same. There isn’t time.
Are you the type of reader who already knows how the book is going to rate before it’s over, or do you wait until the last page and evaluate everything? I can be both. I know if I’m literally hating a book that it won’t fare very well at the end, even if something fabulous happens in the last few chapters. But if I’m liking what I’m reading, often I will mull it over in my head at the end, flipping back through its pages and thinking about how it made me feel. What Alice Forgot made me do a lot of self reflection. And although that’s not always comfortable for me, in this case it made me want to remember all the great things about my life and the people that I spend it with. And it made me hopeful that the next 10 years will hold a lot of happy memories.
About five years ago, there were talks about adapting this title for the big screen with Jennifer Aniston as the titular Alice. According to IMDb, it’s “In Development”; however, no updates have been made to the page in quite a while. Even though I love Ms. Aniston, after reading this book, I’d love to see a newbie in this role. A fresh-faced actor who can handle family drama and subtle comedy would be exciting to see as Alice. As long as she doesn’t forget her lines…
LIANE MORIARTY can’t remember the first story she ever wrote, but she does remember her first publishing deal. Her father ‘commissioned’ her to write a novel for him and offered an advance of $1. She had no agent, so accepted his first offer and wrote a three volume epic called ‘The Mystery of Dead Man’s Island.’ Only volume 2 remains in print. Liane is now a full-time author. She has sold over 20 million copies of her books worldwide and her novels have been translated into forty languages. Discover more at her website – bio from Goodreads