Friday, 14 May 2010
Review: Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin
When Naomi tries to piece back the fragments of the last three and a half years of her life, she discovers a lot. She has a boyfriend but can't remember him, her mother and father are divorced, and she has forgotten that she is supposed to hate her mother. She also has a group of friends which simply doesn't seem that attractive any more and, despite having meticulously kept a diary, she only mentioned what she ate every day in it! But it's not all bad, because when a girl loses three and a half years she gets a chance to reinvent herself. After all, who is to say that everything has to be the same?
As you would expect from the title, it is written in 1st person narrative dropping us straight into Naomi's life following an accident where she gets a nasty head injury wiping out her memory of the past few years. Only certain aspects like all her personal life yet she can still remember things like maths & science. Funny how the brain works :)
The book is written in 3 sections. The 1st section is called I was. It deals with Naomi trying to piece together the type of person she was before the accident. It gives her new insight into events that have occurred within the years the is unable to remember. She is also able to look back at her previous reactions objectively which helps give her a different perspective.
The 2ND section is called I Am. Where although Naomi is still unable to remember the last few years she takes the opportunity to redefine herself into the person she feels like on the inside rather than the person everyone but herself can remember. She cuts her hair, dumps her boyfriend, drops a few things at school and starts a new relationship with James, the boy who was at the accident, finds some new friends and takes a part in the drama production. Gabrielle Zevin does a wonderful job of depicting the horror that is depression within the narrative. Although we as a reader can see that the romance between Naomi and James is doomed, you can also appreciate the qualities that draw Naomi to James. At points I literally wanted to scream at Naomi to leave James as she couldn't help him and was only hurting herself. Powerful writing to inspire that sort of reaction don't you think?
The 3rd section is called I Will. Although Naomi regains her memory she doesn't tell anyone for awhile afraid to fit the 2 halves of herself together, the Naomi before the accident and the Naomi she created in order to redefine herself. The narrative gives wonderful insight into the difference between how we feel about ourselves and how other people see us. As Naomi comes to terms with all the events in her life she puts into practice the new perspective she has gained and discovers true love in the process.
A beautifully written book dealing with some sensitive subjects one of which is depression. Terrific music references again. A really good read :)