Title: What Alice Forgot
Author: Liane Moriarty
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Romance, Women’s Fiction
Themes: Marriage, Separation, Family, Trust, Love, Kindness, Fertility, Bullying, Grief
Publication Date: May 1, 2009
Alice Love wakes up from a gym accident only to realize that she’s actually ten years older than what she things she is and her life has been turned upside down. She has three children she can’t remember, separation from the man she was madly in love with, and her personality seemed to have taken a topsy-turvy turn.
As Alice pieces together what has happened within the past decade, she can’t decide if forgetting is a blessing in disguise or if it’s just a burden that she must carry until memories fall back into place.
So far I’ve read The Husband’s Secret and Big Little Lies from Liane Moriarty, both of which I really enjoyed. Of course that means I was excited to start this one since it’s been on my to-read list for a while. What was even better was I read and discussed this book with my best friend.
I’m going to start with the positives here. Though the writing was simple and easy to follow, the story was truly captivating for me. I honestly wanted to know what happened during Alice’s ten “missing” years. Due to this curiosity I found myself reading chapter after chapter without realizing how quickly I speeding by through the book. I love when books can take you away from reality and all you want to do is read read read.
I will say that both the story and the discussion questions at the end made me question what would I think if I suddenly woke up with the last ten years missing from my memory? It’s funny because ten years ago, I was in grad school and had not met my husband. Boy, would I be confused? Who is this man I am living with? Who’s baby is this? And why in the world do I have a dog? (I wasn’t much of a dog person before getting ours).
One of favorite aspects of the book were the scenes that involved Alice’s children. I can only imagine what it would be like to have three children and how busy everyone’s lives would be. To read about their individual personalities was fun, and the way they teased and bugged each other seemed pretty realistic. I found myself chuckling through some of these scenes, but also was reflective on how separation can affect children in different ways.
Aside from Alice’s perspective, the author includes letters and journal entries from two other characters. One of them, Elisabeth, I loved reading about. The struggles she dealt with are very relatable and realistic. It was also done is an almost snarky way, like a bit of dark humor. This was in contrast to Alice’s questioning and gentle character perspective, and I liked the balance of these two perspectives. Without giving too much away, I could vaguely relate to the emotional stress that she went through, and I appreciate the author bringing something that can be challenging to talk about to the surface. On the other hand, I could not understand why the author bothered including these letters from a character named Frannie. Frannie is a part of Alice’s life, but the letters she wrote, which many times were repeated through Alice’s view point, just seemed pointless and a waste of time. Frannie herself is a nice character and I’m glad she found her happy ending, but her letters didn’t really add much to the text.
Now, the crux as to why this book isn’t getting a five stars from me. Yes, Frannie’s letter were not necessary, but it was the ending that knocked off a star from my rating. I won’t obviously give much away, but boy was that ending unsatisfying. Like with some stories, after the climax occurs, some authors like to spill everything out so quickly that the reader is just left spinning. Sure, a climax should be intense and fairly quick, but the resolution doesn’t have to be so quick that it ends up being a list of what happened to everyone within a few pages. Unfortunately, that’s what happened here. A list of what happened to who, but no real explanation as to why. Then, when we learn who Alice ends up being with just seemed so…blah. Maybe the point the author was trying to make was not everyone can have a truly happy ending, but it was so hard to tell what Alice was feeling. I didn’t feel happy, but maybe Alice was. Who knows? It was so strange to have Alice’s feelings and thoughts all open and splayed out through most of the book, but then the ending, there was nothing. Just facts.
Overall, the ending wasn’t great, but I did love reading most of the book and looked forward to picking it up each time I sat down and read.
I would recommend this book to those who enjoy contemporary fiction, with some romance, about a woman discovering how her life ended up the way it did.