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What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
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What Alice Forgot

by Liane Moriarty

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This book was great! Very fast moving and keeps you wanting to read more! ( )
  Colleen.OP | Jun 8, 2015 |
Not a bad read, but not quite as good as The Husband's Secret, her most recent novel.

It's about a young woman, Alice, on the verge of turning 40, who has an accident at her gym and manages to lose ten years worth of memories. In her head, it is 1998, she's 29, newly married, and pregnant with her first child. But in reality, she is 39, has three children, and embroiled in a nasty custody dispute with her husband whom she is divorcing. During the course of the novel, Alice is able to see her current reality from the perspectives of those she's estranged from, including an older sister struggling to have a baby, and her honorary grandmother living in a retirement home.

The writer has a distinct narrative style that could be disorienting for readers. The characters talk and think in a stream-of-consciousness style, with rambling monologues. Often jumping off topic. This can at times come across as repetitive and frustrating - since it takes a while to get to the point. Reading this book can feel a bit like talking to someone who likes to jump tracks or topics every five minutes, with no connection between them. The dialogue is similar - people change the topics, or talk at each other - rarely is there a clear exchange of information. Readers who are used to a clearer, more direct narrative style may become frustrated early on and give up.

In addition, much like the last novel, there are three points of view. Except two are in first person close, while the main point of view is third person close. Alice's point of view is in third person, interspersed throughout are journal entries by her sister to the sister's therapist, and letters from the honorary granny to Phil. While these other perspectives are informative, they can also be a bit repetitive at times not to mention distracting and as a result detract from the plot.
That said, both serve a clear purpose - Elizabeth's entries about her difficulties getting pregnant to the point that she has become insanely obsessed with it - highlight how 39 year old Alice has taken her children for granted. While Frannie's entries to an old and long gone fiancée, highlight how Alice has taken her relationship with Nick for granted. Both state periodically, and somewhat judgmentally, how lucky Alice is.

As she unravels what happened in the last ten years - the period of time she could not remember - Alice discovers that she became somewhat hard and not all that likable. Her husband hates her on sight. His family can't stand to be in the same room with her. Her sister is barely speaking to her.
Her eldest daughter has become a behavior problem and they are not getting along. And she was apparently absorbed and obsessed with someone named Gina. Who is Gina? Why was she so integral to Alice's life and why does it seem all roads lead back to her? How did she become this way? How did her happy marriage go off the rails? And what can she do to fix it?

At its root - the novel is a story about a marriage, how it went awry, and the various misunderstandings and disagreements. Alice's memory loss is never quite explained, although it appeared to me to be psychosomatic in nature, since she resists the memories when they first start to pop up. Nor is it really the focus of the novel, so much as what went wrong with the marriage and how Alice perceives her marriage as a 29 year old new mother, and as a cynical 39 year old mother with three young children, then later still as a worldly 49 year old mother of teenagers.

A good read, not a great one. Did a lot of skimming through it. Good airplane or train book.
( )
  cmlloyd67 | Jun 7, 2015 |
I enjoyed the story and the premise that we can get caught up in the rat race, forgetting our early dreams. ( )
  JennyMcb | Jun 2, 2015 |
What might happen if you hit your head while working out, and came to only to learn that you'd "lost" ten years of your life? That's what happens to Alice, pregnant with her first child, only to find it's ten years later, she's thin, she has three children, and her husband Nick, the love of her life, has left her.

As in Liane Moriarty's The Husband's Secret and Big Little Lies, this book also tells its story from the viewpoints of three main female characters. Besides Alice's point of view (written in third person, from both age 29 and age 39), there were journal entries to her psychiatrist from Elisabeth, Alice's sister, dealing with infertility issues; as well as letters to a (dead) former flame written by Frannie, the "grandmother" to Alice and Elisabeth. These didn't add much to Alice's main storyline, other than to help clarify what drove Alice and Elisabeth apart, and shed some light on their goofy mother (now married to Nick's father). They made the book a bit longer than it needed to be.

However, I loved the premise of this book, and the dialogue, especially that of Alice with her children - the children she doesn't "know" because she doesn't remember them. The younger Alice is upbeat and optimistic - and rather horrified to learn how much she has changed (mostly NOT for the better) in the last ten years she "missed." Of course, her memory slowly returns, and the ending is rather predictable, but getting there is compelling, even with the not-so-necessary side stories.

Best quote in the book: "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 love is ineffable. It deserves its own word."

© Amanda Pape - 2015

[This e-book was borrowed from and returned to my local public library. This review is also available on Bookin' It.] ( )
1 vote riofriotex | May 5, 2015 |
I really enjoyed this book.I thought the characters were nicely written and it really made me think about what I would do in that situation. It definitely goes on my list of favorites and I can see myself reading it again. They one and only thing I thought was a little unbelievable with this book is the fact that none of her family felt the need to tell her about Gina. What in the world was their reasoning for not telling her?? They just decided to let her wonder about it until she finally got her memory back. I did love seeing Alice grow and learn about he life though. The ending was exceptional as well! ( )
  KeriLynneD | Mar 20, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 108 (next | show all)
Twenty-nine-year-old Alice Love is pregnant with her first child, adores her husband, Nick, and has never set foot inside a spinning studio. Thirty-nine-year-old Alice Love suffers a sudden fall in her Friday spin class, wakes up with a splitting headache, and finds out she has three children and is in the middle of custody proceedings. Without any concrete memories of the past 10 years, Alice tries to figure out how her free-spirited 29-year-old self became a volunteer-coordinating, spin-class-attending 39-year-old woman. What Alice Forgot is an often funny, sometimes heartrending, deeply personal portrait of a woman attempting to unravel her own mystery.
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She was floating, arms outspread, water lapping her body, breathing in a summery fragrance of salt and coconut.
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Early love is exciting and exhilarating. It's light and bubbly. Anyone can love like that. But love after three children, after separation and near divorce - after you've hurt each other and forgiven each other, bored each other, after you've seen the worst and the best - well that sort of love is ineffable. It deserves its own word.
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Suffering an accident that causes her to forget the last ten years of her life, Alice is astonished to discover that she is thirty-nine years old, a mother of three children, and in the midst of an acrimonious divorce from a man she dearly loves.

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