Sunday, December 09, 2007

Memoirs of A Teenage Amnesiac

Zevin, Gabrielle. 2007. Memoirs of A Teenage Amnesiac.

Who are you? Who are you really? Are you the composite of your memories? Do your memories make you you? What would you be--who would you be--without your memories? Memoirs of A Teenage Amnesiac tells the story of Naomi. It's divided into three parts: "I Was," "I am," and "I Will." Here is how it begins:

Above all, mine is a love story.
And like most love stories, this one involves chance, gravity, a dash of head trauma.
It began with coin toss.
The coin came up tails; I was heads.
Had it gone my way, there might not be a story at all. Just a chapter or a sentence in a book whose greater theme had yet to be determined. Maybe this chapter would have had the faintest whisper of love about it, but may not.
Sometimes, a girl needs to lose.

Is that accurate? Is Memoirs of A Teenage Amnesiac 'above all' a love story? Yes and no. It's more and less than a love story. Naomi is a teenage girl. The co-editor of the high school year book. Her co-editor is her best friend, Will. The coin toss. The camera has been left behind. Someone needs to go back inside and get it. Naomi is 'fated' to do it. The trip back to the parking lot with the camera ...well, it ends with her at the bottom of the front steps with a concussion.

As you have guessed by now, she wakes up with amnesia. She's a junior in high school with no memories past the age of twelve. Her 'rescuer' is James Larkin. Her boyfriend is Ace Zuckerman. Her best friend is Will. Her father. These are the people in her life trying to tell her who she is, who she was, what she's like, what she does. But everything feels off for Naomi. Nothing feels right. Everything feels different, feels weird, feels foreign. Her boyfriend? She doesn't know what she ever saw in him. Her best friend? Well, he knows too much, expects too much, hopes too much, needs too much. The only people she feels comfortable with are the ones that didn't know her before her accident.

Can Naomi find out who she is? Who she really is? In the midst of these identity crises, Naomi fluctuates on who she wants to be with, who she likes, who she loves, who she's attracted to. [But it's more than that. Her hobbies, her interests, her likes and dislikes...they've changed.] This isn't the story of one boy and one girl. It's the story of a girl who 'feels' several different personas and find potential love interests with each persona she adopts. Which one is really her? Who does her heart really belong to?

So I'd say this is a story all about identity. All about choices. About being authentic. About being yourself. About not being afraid of changes.

I enjoyed this one. But I didn't love, love, love it. I had a few problems with it. But overall, I'd say it was a good reading experience.


Anonymous,  4:09 PM  

I really like how you have described this book. I myself have read it and I adored it. You are right when you say that Naomi undergoes an identity crisis. The whole had trauma thing worked out for the best though! Have you read Zevin's other book, Elsewhere?

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