REVIEW: Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

FullSizeRender (49)Naomi is a normal teenager until she falls down some stairs at school and can’t remember anything from the past four years. She doesn’t know her best friend, she doesn’t know her boyfriend, and she doesn’t know that her parents are divorced and are moving on with different people. Naomi has to learn about being herself, what she’s interested in and who her friends are.

The writing in Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac is great. It feels as if Naomi is just casually talking to the reader and she’s a very realistic teenager and narrator. How she reacts to losing her memory is very believable as she’s confused and doesn’t know anyone but she feels like she knows herself and what she would want and would do. That being said, the person she feels like she is is not necessarily the sort of person she was in front of people at school – it’s all very confusing for her.

I liked a lot of the other people in her life as they weren’t sure how to deal with Naomi’s memory lose either but I wasn’t over keen on certain characters lying to her. It was understandable as she was getting a lot of information at once but at the same time, keeping things from Naomi was never going to help her in the long run.

There was a quote from Naomi’s father towards the end of the book that I loved and it really resonated with me. I’ve typed it out below because it was my favourite thing in the whole book:

“You forget all of it anyway. First, you forget everything you learned – the dates of the Hay-Herran Treaty and the Pythagorean Theorem. You especially forget everything you didn’t really learn, but just memorized the night before. You forget the names of all but one or two of your teachers, and eventually you’ll forget those, too. You forget your junior year class schedule and where you used to sit and your best friend’s home phone number and the lyrics to that song you must have played a million times. For me, it was something b Simon & Garfunkel. Who knows what it will be for you? And eventually, but slowly, oh so slowly, you forget your humiliations – even the ones that seemed indelible just fade away. You forget who was cool and who was not, who was pretty, smart, athletic, and not. Who went to a good college. Who threw the best parties. Who could get you pot. You forget all of them. Even the ones you said you loved, and even the ones you actually did. They’re the last to go. And then once you’ve forgotten enough, you love someone else.”

It’s all about how we all forget things from our childhood, even the things we thought were important or really embarrassing. As someone who is perhaps a bit too old for YA fiction set in high school, it resonated with me as I have forgotten the vast majority of my teachers name, and the people I went to school and college with and even people I went to university with – it’s a fact of life and amnesia or not we all forget stuff as we get older.

I give Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac 4/5. It’s an interesting concept and Naomi is a great lead but some of the supporting characters and their lack of communication bugged me.


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