Book Review: Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin
If Naomi had picked tails, she would have won the coin toss. She wouldn’t have had to go back for the yearbook camera, and she wouldn’t have hit her head on the steps. She wouldn’t have woken up in an ambulance with amnesia. She certainly would have remembered her boyfriend, Ace. She might even have remembered why she fell in love with him in the first place. She would understand why her best friend, Will, keeps calling her “Chief.” She’d know about her mom’s new family. She’d know about her dad’s fiancée. She never would have met James, the boy with the questionable past and the even fuzzier future, who tells her he once wanted to kiss her. She wouldn’t have wanted to kiss him back.
But Naomi picked heads.
This book was recommended to me on Goodreads, and I found it at the library while I was looking for another book, so I decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did. I’ve read several books where the main character gets amnesia and forgets several years of her life. I enjoyed the way it was handled in this novel. There are no secret plots that she was in the middle of. She doesn’t suddenly realize she’s become a completely different person. She changes, yes, and she does have to figure out where she fits in this world that she doesn’t remember. But the entire thing seemed realistic to me. It didn’t feel like a soap opera, which is what this type of book often feels like to me. It read as one girl’s journey to figure out who she is and what she wants out of life.
I liked the characters in this novel. They all had their little quirks and seemed like real people, even those we didn’t see that often. I disliked Ace a lot in the beginning, but I liked that we eventually learned a little more about him. He seemed more like a real person by the end of the novel. James definitely had his issues, and my least favorite scene in the entire book involved him and what I consider Naomi’s completely unrealistic reaction to something he did, but other than that I could see why she liked him. I liked Will and his loyalty and determination to make the yearbook something memorable. I liked how Mr. Porter didn’t really have any idea how to discipline Naomi when she did something wrong.
I had mixed feelings about Naomi toward the middle of the novel. I liked her at first and felt sorry for her when she lost her memory. I could sympathize with her as she realizes that she doesn’t really fit in with her boyfriend or his friends, and when she feels like she’s been abandoned by yet another mother. But then she starts to act rather selfishly, and I stopped cheering for her for a little while. She lies and treats her best friend like crap, and I didn’t like some of her decisions. Fortunately, by the end of the novel she had figured herself out, and I was cheering for her again.