Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac

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 is yet another novel I have no clue how I got acquainted with it and how it ended up on my shelves. All I know is, it’s been there a long, long time.

This was a great little novel that really surprised me. It was less about Naomi’s amnesia and more about what happens when she’s given an unexpected second chance. Naomi wakes up from her fall with no memory of the last four years of her life. Four years in which so much had changed.

While I was reading, I was thinking about how our lives would look to us if we could step outside ourselves and look at it from a stranger’s perspective. Which is essentially what happens to Naomi. Amnesiac-Naomi is kind of disgusted with Pre-amnesia-Naomi. I think sometimes people start down paths that leave them unhappy, but they find themselves stuck and unable to find the way back. Naomi is given this unique chance to pull her life back to what makes her happy. Even though her amnesia causes her to get four years of her life, it also provides her with an extraordinary moment of clarity. Since she can no longer remember why she did things that didn’t make her happy, it’s easier to let go. She leaves some relationships behind, embarks on others, and repairs the ones that need to be repaired. We all have regrets about our life. But not often are we given a chance to make them right.

The one thing I had a bit of problem with in the novel was that there are hints that Naomi had had an eating disorder (which she doesn’t remember because of her amnesia). This is never brought up again after the initial revelation of it and it doesn’t ever come back to factor into her life. I would have liked to have seen that tied back somehow.

The tag line of this novel is “Sometimes, a girl needs to lose.” Although, this sentence is found in the novel itself, just as it is, I can’t help, but think it’s unfinished. Like it got cut in half. So that altogether it reads, “Sometimes, a girl needs to lose to gain everything”.


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