Book Review: “What Alice Forgot” by Liane Moriarty

I have a confession to make. I haven’t been reading many books lately. Oh sure, I’ve read 100 different installments involving Thomas the Tank Engine, and I read online all day long, but I haven’t read a novel in ages. As in, at least six months. What’s even funnier is that my son and I are at the library at least twice a week, but it’s not really “my” time at the library. Last week while we were there, I made an effort to migrate out of the youth area and into the “new books” section. I am so glad I did. I picked up What Alice Forgot, by Liane Moriarty and I can’t stop thinking about it. 

Maybe it’s because I’m nearly the age Alice is in the story. Maybe it’s because I’ve been married for 10 years. Maybe it’s because it’s the right premise for this stage in my life. What Alice Forgot tells the story of Alice Love, a nearly forty-year-old woman who suffers a brain injury when she falls off her bike in spin class. She hits her head in 2008, but when she wakes up, she believes it is 1998.

She quickly discovers her life has taken twists and turns she could have never imagined. Her relationships with the people who were dearest to her in 1998 have changed to the point of no return. Since 1998, apparently, she’s met a new best friend and watched her die. She’s taken up spinning. She’s given birth to three children. She and her husband Nick have apparently finished their “Impossible Dream” list of things to do to repair their home, and Nick has moved out. And she can’t, except for snippets, recall any of it.

This premise has had me thinking for days. Ten years ago, in 2002, I was newly married myself. We were renting a townhouse, and Mr. SallyJ actually worked out of state. I was teaching preschool, dreaming of buying a house and starting a family. I had one niece and one nephew, both of whom were newborns. I had a good circle of friends, and had just met what would become a very special group of women known as my cooking club (more on them in a different post).

Fast forward to 2012. I’ve been married for ten years. We’ve adopted two children and know their birth families. We own a townhouse we cannot sell. Mr. SallyJ works in an entirely different field. I work in search marketing and SEO and client support. We have, at most recent count, 14 nieces and nephews. My circle of friends has stretched and expanded and broken off and repaired itself. The friends I spoke with daily in 2002 are not the friends I speak to daily in 2012. I write more in one week in 2012 than I wrote the entire year of 2002.

i cannot imagine losing these past ten years of my life, I just can’t. That, I think, is what sucked me into this book. The idea of looking at your husband or your sister and not knowing what’s come to pass between you (because, clearly, by their behavior, something has come to pass) is fascinating. The idea that you have no idea who your children are, that you are unaware of their very being, is petrifying to me. But this is where Alice starts. And although she does get her memory back, Young Alice, as Old Alice likes to call her, sticks around in some ways. She’s softer around the edges. She’s willing to let bygones be bygones. She likes to eat chocolate.

I won’t give any spoilers away, but pose this question- what would it be like for you to wake up and think it was 2002?

8 replies on “Book Review: “What Alice Forgot” by Liane Moriarty”

2002. . . Oh! I was diving head first into Harry Potter fandom!

going to my old haunts online would be super bizarre, because they’ve changed a lot, and so have the people who used to geek out about harry potter with me. some of them dropped fandom (I typed family the first time. . .) completely, other’s a little, some have just moved on to another fandom.

I wouldn’t have the sense of Identity I have now- I was still trying to hide my disabilities at that point. I wouldn’t have autistic culture or community to fall back on. I’d be so shocked. . . Today me finds young me patronizing, privilege denying, and carelessly/intentlessly harmful. My development as a person has changed so so much.

And oh goodness the bad poetry!

Oh dear lord, I wouldn’t have my boyfriend! Or well, don’t recognize him, which hurts. I would also still be in college and don’t understand why I’m working three days a week in the post office while I’m clearly on the road of being a good journalist because my teachers like to tell me I have a nice writing style.

I wouldn’t remember living in South Africa and meeting a couple of people I call friends and ha! My pregnant friend would terrify me even more with her big belly.

Then whatever you do, Meghan, DO NOT go to spin class and fall off your bike!

I think waking up and thinking it was a bad time, and then have your fiancee greeting you and seeing your wedding plans would be kind of amazing. It’d mess with you for sure, but I think you’d be SO relieved that things had gotten better!

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