Title: What Alice Forgot
Author: Liane Moriarty
Source: Purchased (Paperback)
Remember the woman you used to be …
Alice is twenty-nine. She is whimsical, optimistic and adores sleep, chocolate, her ramshackle new house and her wonderful husband Nick. What’s more, she’s looking forward to the birth of the ‘Sultana’ – her first baby.
But now Alice has slipped and hit her head in her step-aerobics class and everyone’s telling her she’s misplaced the last ten years of her life.
In fact, it would seem that Alice is actually thirty-nine and now she loves schedules, expensive lingerie, caffeine and manicures. She has three children and the honeymoon is well and truly over for her and Nick. In fact, he looks at her like she’s his worst enemy. What’s more, her beloved sister Elisabeth isn’t speaking to her either. And who is this ‘Gina’ everyone is so carefully trying not to mention?
Alice isn’t sure that she likes life ten years on. Every photo is another memory she doesn’t have and nothing makes sense. Just how much can happen in a decade? Has she really lost her lovely husband forever?
(This review originally appeared on my blog Winter Distractions on April 30, 2013)
When I buy new books, I tend to be one of those people who, while perusing the selection at, say, a grocery store, will say, “Oooh, look! Shiny books!” I’ll find one that will completely pull me in from its synopsis and I’ll exclaim there, in the grocery store, that I will buy this book and read it and love it!
Months later, I’ll find this book on my shelf, only to realize that I HAVEN’T read it, but I’ll also remember how excited I was when I first saw the book and I’ll read the back and get excited again. THEN I’ll tell the internet that I’ll read it SOON and … it’ll sit on my shelf for months more.
I’m quite crap that way.
Anyway, this was one of those books and the instant I finished reading it, I was so happy that I had finally picked it up to read it because it was exactly the kind of book that I wanted it to be. It was perfectly written and told the story of Alice, who woke up one day at the gym after an accident to realize that she had lost 10 years of her life. Instead of being the almost-40-year-old with multiple kids, she woke up thinking she was still 29 and pregnant with her first child.
From there, it’s a whirlwind of emotion and confusion for Alice as she tries to figure out who she was, but trying to not let go of who she was. I felt SO MUCH for Alice throughout the story and felt in the dark as well, since Alice is pretty much the main narrator. We’re only told what she knows. There is the occasional narrative by Alice’s sister, Libbie (as told in her journal entries to her therapist), and by her grandmother (as told in letters), but other than they’re bits we’re left to rely entirely on Alice.
I thought this book was absolutely fantastic. Like I said, it was exactly what I wanted it to be, but it also had little twists and turns and things I wasn’t expecting. I loved that the story kept me on my toes and had enough mystery to it that I kept guessing, trying to figure out who exactly Alice was. I mean, ten years can change a person quite a lot so I could imagine it being a complete shock for Alice after such a trauma. It’s interesting to think of what a person would want to remember and what they might want to change after something like this.
The characters were great — I loved Alice and Libbie, as well as Alice’s family, and Nick. There were some people who drove me absolutely nuts and others who I wanted to know more about. It was interesting to meet these people AFTER Alice’s accident and to ultimately learn how they all fit in her life. The interesting thing about Alice, though — and something that could have driven me nuts — was the fact that she just didn’t seem to get it after she woke up. She was still so young at heart that she didn’t seem to fit in the grown-up shoes she had made for herself. It was endearing to see her so naive. There were times I wanted to throttle her and tell her to see a therapist, but I think it all worked out in the end.
I also really liked the setting of Australia. Truth be told, I assumed it was taking place in England when I first started it, but was pleasantly surprised to find out it was Australia. We don’t learn a LOT about the place where Alice is, but it was nice to have something different since most books I read seem to take place in the same places.
In the end, this book really piqued my interest in Liane’s writing and I found myself perusing my library’s selection to see what books of hers they had for me to read. I look forward to trying out more of her stories!