Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

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Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

As you may recall, I didn't exactly love Elsewhere , but I was still looking forward to reading Gabrielle Zevin's sophomore novel: Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac.

Like Elsewhere, the premise of Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac is a bit unrealistic (though less so).

Naomi is walking down the front steps of her high school when her precious camera slips out of her hands. Rushing to catch it, she slips and falls. Next thing she knows, she is waking up in a hospital bed, and doesn't remember anything beyond sixth grade. At her bedside is Will, her co-chief on the Yearbook staff and her best friend. She does not remember that her parents are divorced, or that her mother has a new family, or the friendship-altering event that happened the weekend before her fall.

Unlike Elsewhere, however, in Memoirs, Zevin fully examines Naomi's emotions and identity crisis, and doesn't shy away from serious issues. In fact, I was actually surprised by how dark this novel was, and how compelling. I picked it up, intending to just start it before class,* but then ended up picking it up during every spare moment in both classes (professor wanted to wait a few minutes for people to log-in -- read another chapter, class let out half an hour early -- read another 50 pages...) After getting out of class at 10, I ended up staying awake until 1 to finish it.

In other words, I found Memoirs to be much more well-rounded than Elsewhere, with both an unusual premise, and strong writing. I would recommend it highly to teens who enjoyed Elsewhere, but also perhaps to teens who enjoy Sarah Dessen or Tara Altebrando's The Pursuit of Happiness. If you can think of any other good read-alikes, feel free to leave a comment!

*my classes are online


Lazygal said...

This is more of a "don't read" alike: Open Ice by Pat Hughes. I was very happy when Memoirs arrived, since it tells a good story about what it's like to be an amnesiac - the story feels real and I think that my students will appreciate it. OI tells a similar story but just not as well or in a way I could recommend.

Sara said...

You know... I think sometimes "don't read" alikes are just as helpful. There are so, so, many books out there that it's kind of nice sometimes to just be told "this one really wasn't worth it"

(on the other hand, if I hear that someone viciously hated a book, I may be more inclined to read it!)

Little Willow said...

Like you, I really enjoyed Memoirs, both of its own accord and compared to Elsewhere, which I thought was a cool concept and better than, say, The Lovely Bones. (Don't get me started!)

Thanks for mentioning The Pursuit of Happiness. I still love that one.

Sara said...

The whole time I was reading, I kept thinking that James reminded me of "that guy from The Pursuit of Happiness"... and then I looked it up, and realized that his name was James too!

And I've never read the Lovely Bones... nice to know I'm not missing much!

Little Willow said...

I recommend people read Dead on Town Line instead of Lovely Bones. :)

I think James from Pursuit and Wes from The Truth About Forever should become friends.

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