Monday, August 1, 2011

Review: Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac

"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.
After her remarkable debut, Gabrielle Zevin has crafted an imaginative second novel all about love and second chances."

-Good Reads


  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Release date: Jan. 1, 2007
  • Page count: 271
  • Unique elements: Because the protagonist has forgotten only the last four years, we learn about her personality when she questions other people; typewriter theme carried throughout, including buttons around chapter numbers
  • Would appeal to: Anyone who appreciates a well developed character, music, movies, or yearbook
Favorite quotes:

"His voice was low and steady. I've always associated those types of voices with honesty, but I'm sure there are loads of low-pitched liars just waiting to take advantage of easy prey like me."

"They (nurses) were an indistinct blur of pastel and white uniforms, like chalk doodles on a sidewalk in the rain."

"It occured to me that if any of the Rockettes got sick or even murdered, no one would notice. They'd just bring on an identical replacement, smack on some lipstick, and the show would go on without any noticeable decrease in quality."
"'Love stories are written in millimeters and milliseconds with a fast, dull pencil whose marks you can barely see...They are written in miles and eons with a chisel on the side of a mountaintop.'"

This is Gabrielle Zevin's second book about a head trauma, although I haven't read Elsewhere yet. I'm adding it to my reading list.

I believe Zevin is very creative. Not only did I want to keep reading this book, but there were three different guys, all who Naomi could maybe be into, and most everything you learn about her comes from a secondary source. Since after her fall only the last four years of her memory have been erased, she relies on other people to tell her what she was like. And it's not always easy to know who to trust. When her dad tells her she's not speaking with her mom so mom didn't come to the hospital, she wonders why. In the first chapter alone, we see a lot of things that were going wrong in Naomi's life, which suggests she could be repressing the memories.
I loved the fact that someone in the book was left in a typewriter case in Russia when he/she was a baby. That was a story I've never heard.

Naomi's different relationships with all three guys in her life are extremes, so each boy is memorable. One is into music, one into movies, and the other, athletics. I felt like I was witnessing a true story rather than a fictional account. Lots of issues are explored, including family feuds, lying, trust, depression, death, and orphans. Not to mention, Naomi and Will are on the yearbook staff as co-editors-in-chief. That may be why this was so appealing. I understood everything they were talking about (as a yearbook adviser!).  This part cracked me up:

"I wondered why in the world it could possibly take so much time, money, and effort to slap two hard covers around a stack of photographs."

Oh the outrage, if my editors ever read that line! It's true, the work put into a yearbook is often underestimated, but it is a huge committment.

This book was well-written and creative. I really liked the main character. I did laugh at a few parts. Still, I don't know if it will stick with me forever.

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