What Alice Forgot, Liane Moriarty (2011)

16 Sep

Alice Love is 39 years old, has three children, and in the midst of a bitter divorce and custody battle. She faints during a spin class and knocks her head on the bike handlebars, suffering a severe concussion.  When Alice awakes, she thinks she’s 29, fourteen weeks pregnant, and happily married.  What Alice Forgot is her journey to piece those ten years back together, and find her way back into her own life.

This is a book that is above all about feelings and themes.  The plotline is engaging, but is secondary to the emotion.  I easily connected with the characters.  Early on, I was worried that Moriarty was setting me up for disappointment, and blame all the hurt and heartbreak in Alice’s 39 year old world simply on her being cold and bitter.  Moriarty artfully avoids placing blame.  Moriarty explores relationships tenderly, and with full consciousness that they are complex and that they can truly be (and not just seem) different depending on the perspective.

The driving theme is the momentum of conflict–how a problem in a relationship can develop and grow until you lose sight over what the conflict is about and you can’t extricate yourself from it any longer.  It wasn’t just Alice’s anger that built upon itself, all the characters consumed with this problem.  Alice’s amnesia creates a pause where the characters are able to stop and consider what the real problems are, and how they got to where they are.

Moriarty skilfully expresses Alice’s emotions about having no memory of her three children, not even being able to recognize pictures of them, and that the men is (when she returns to consciousness) deeply in love with viciously hates her.  I  read much of this book laying in bed, and it gave me such deep heartache that I wanted to wake Baby Beez up and snuggle her.  I gave my husband an extra few hugs and was extra thankful for our happiness.  It’s painful to see Alice wake up in love, after she had already fallen out of it.

The novel does become progressively happier.  It’s not a “feel miserable” book.  The sad feelings just resonated with me the strongest.  As she struggles, Alice grows.  She makes the best of her circumstances, and truly works hard to repair relationships.  What Alice Forgot works to a resolution that’s satisfying, but not sappy.  I look forward to reading Moriarty’s other books, because this one was certainly engaging and well-written.

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