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The story begins with Alice dreaming of cream cheese. Why not? Dreams are typically pretty weird. Alice Love is 29 years old, completely enamored with her husband, and pregnant with their first child. Or at least, so she believes when she wakes up from the cream cheese dream. But the reality is that Alice is 39 years old. She is on the floor of the gym wearing clothes she would swear are not hers. And what is she doing at the gym anyway? She hates exercising!
Oh Yes: It's an amnesia book.
Gasp of Horror!
As luck would have it, it isn't as cheesy as a soap opera; we can all rest a little easier. The story actually reads a bit like a detective novel: a heart-squishing kind of detective novel. Even my little black heart was momentarily touched as Alice tries to find the truth: if she and her husband were so happy, how could they be getting a divorce now? Did ten years turn her into an unlovable bitch where the most important people are concerned? Did he cheat on her? Why is her sister, who was always her best friend, so distant now? What did a decade do? As previously mentioned: it did a lot. The story goes back and forth primarily between Alice's perspective and her sister Elizabeth's journal/letters to her therapist. Alice's amnesia is a sort of catalyst for everyone to examine their relationships and who they've lost touch with over the years.
This may have been silly of me, but I read this as a horror novel for a while.
You ARE silly.
I know, but it was scary, because I can relate to the younger version of the characters. I was telling my husband how horrifying it is that in ten years we might have accrued all these little hurts and resentments that might make us hate each other, which is basically what was happening to these characters. And then he said something that made it all better. "Clearly, they never had the poop talk." Because if you can discuss your bowel movements with your partner, you can talk your way through anything. And those petty hurts you're bent out of shape over? You gotta let that shit go. In summary, the characters in this book are emotionally constipated, and Alice's amnesia is the laxative they needed. Once she gets in touch with her younger self, she remembers that some of the stuff she's wound up in really isn't so important after all. And she lets it go. So far, this book may seem like a bit of a downer. For those of you who cannot read something unless it has a happy ending, you can add this book to your list of things to read. You're safe.
Overall, I enjoyed this story and would recommend it to most people. Since much of it centers around what it means to be a wife, a mother, and reproductive issues, I don't expect men would care too much for it, but they might gain some insights anyway. The only thing that I found particularly weird about it didn't even have anything to do with the story, but with the book itself. Right after you're finished reading, there is a page toward the end that includes a list of discussion questions. I found the story compelling enough that I asked myself questions as we went along: What my life was like 10 years ago versus what I think it will be like 10 years from now, what relationships I lost to distance or pettiness, how the different character perspectives added to the story, etc. Well, I'm not sure if Liane Moriarty expects her book to be taught in college, or discussed in book clubs and she just has no faith in her readers' ability to think critically, because I found the inclusion of discussion questions to be unnecessary and even pretentious. Other than that, I don't think you'll regret reading What Alice Forgot.