Thursday, April 5, 2012

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

  • Title: What Alice Forgot
  • Classification: Adult Fiction
  • Genre: Realistic Fiction
  • Format: Hardcover, 432 pages
  • Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam; Book Club (BCE/BOMC) edition (June 2, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0399157182/li>
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399157189

"Why are we getting a divorce?"
"What sort of question is that?"
"I just want to know."
The longing to stand up and touch him was so strong, she had to press her hands against her thighs to sop herself from leaping up and burying her head under his chin.
"It doesn't matter why we're getting a divorce," said Nick. "I'm not having this conversation. What is the point of it? I'm not interested in playing games tonight, Alice. I'm exhausted. If you're trying to make me say something you can use against me, it's not going to work."

They say 'what a difference a day makes', but can you imagine what a difference 10 years makes? If you're over 40 can you remember where you were in your life 10 years ago? Do you remember your hopes and dreams? If the 29 year old you met the 39 year old you would you like what you've become? Would you recognize yourself? What would you have missed? Can you imagine not remembering your children or their births? That's what happened to poor Alice. After having a head injury, she woke up thinking it was 10 years earlier, that she was pregnant with her first child, and her marriage was picture perfect.

What Alice finds is a whole different her. Someone who is a health food nut, exercises vigorously, has three instead of the planned two children, thought to be one of the most organized people on earth, and hates her husband. If her head hadn't already hurt it probably would after discovering all that. Now she finds herself oddly alone and confused wondering what in the world happened?

This was a suspenseful read that had me sitting on edge wondering how Alice went from a happily married woman to one on the verge of divorce? How did she go from being close to her sister to someone who hardly knew her? Plus, there is the mystery of who is Gina, a name that keeps popping up, and what role did she have in ending their relationship? Is she the "other" woman or something else? Then there is the possibility she won't ever get her memory back and the question of if she does, will the experience of getting such a different and unique perspective of herself  from the Alice of yesteryear change her? Additionally, if the 'young' Alice fixes the relationship with her husband will the 'old' Alice, if she ever comes back, be happy about it? Talk about your dilemmas.

If you ask a a couple who have been happily married for years what the secret is to their success, they'll usually respond, "you work at it". Nothing in life comes easy and neither does a loving long term relationship, even if some do make it look easy. If you've ever been in relationship for 10 years or more, you'll know what I'm talking about. It's easy for a couple to get caught up in their own lives especially when they're doing different things. One might be more into doing things with the kids, while the other might be more into their job. You need to keep a common ground and keep the communication open, because misunderstanding can spell the downfall of a relationship. In 'What Alice Forgot' we get the unique perspective of  an individual who was part of a  conflicted relationship but doesn't remember what happened and yearns for what she had.

We slowly get snippets of information from the perspective of Alice's sister and a family friend via letters which give hints of what happened to Alice as well as to themselves during that missing 10 year time frame. That paired with Alice's memories coming back in sporadic seemingly random spurts act like puzzle pieces that she tries to link together to get an idea of what went wrong. Sometimes Jane's retrieved memories are jumbled, confusing and at times misleading.

It was fun seeing 'young' Alice try to come to terms with the way things had ended up and her wish to change things. Wouldn't it be wonderful if some things could be erased from our memories and we could try to get it right again? Unfortunately, Nick still remembers and there's no way to go back and fix what has already happened. I sympathized with Alice's fate and couldn't help liking her and they way she tried to change the future while she still could. I loved seeing things through her eyes because it endeared me to her and to the story.

Some of my favorite quotes/lines/moments:
***Beware some contain spoilers***

- 'He was so handsome, it was like a joke. He was all broad shoulders, biceps, piercing eyes, and stubbled jaw. Alice found herself looking around for another woman. There was no point in such a gorgeous man without a friend or sister there so you could exchange glances.
  Surely she wasn't dating him as well? It wouldn't be possible. He was way out of her league...
  "What are you doing eating just before a session?"
  "A session?" asked Alice. Her mind raced. Oh, my Lord, maybe he was a gigolo and he was here to service her. After all, she was a middle-aged woman with a swimming pool.'

- ' Early love is exciting and exhilarating. It’s light and bubbly. Anyone can love like that. But love after three children, after a separation and a near-divorce, after you’ve hurt each other and forgiven each other, bored each other and surprised each other, after you’ve seen the worst and the best—well, that sort of a love is ineffable. It deserves its own word.'

- 'Each memory, good and bad, was another invisible thread that bound them together, even when they were foolishly thinking they could lead separate lives. It was as simple and complicated as that.'

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. The story kept my attention and had me wondering right up until the end who she'd choose--the husband she was about to divorce or the man she'd just started dating. I loved how each stated "I'll know when you get your memory back" because of "the way that you look at me." 

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