So you know how when you buy a new car and you realize suddenly that everyone drives that type of car? It’s the same thing with book ideas. Must be something in the water. So far I’ve read four books with a plot revolving around memory loss.
Before I Go to Sleep: A Novel. A huge international hit. Christine’s memories disappear every time she falls asleep. Every day she wakes up thinking she’s a 20-something, and is shocked to wake up beside a 40-something stranger - and to discover that she’s married to him and she herself is 40-something. She starts keeping a journal to help her keep track of what’s real - and what’s not.
I was totally looking forward to this book, but a) it’s not a real condition, b) you have to get past the idea that she writes a lengthy journal by hand full of sensory descriptions and detailed recaps of events, and most importantly, c) I didn’t believe the solution. Plus the ending is really rushed.
What Alice Forgot. As the publisher says, “Alice Love is twenty-nine years old, madly in love with her husband, and pregnant with their first child. So imagine her surprise when, after a fall, she comes to on the floor of a gym (a gym! she HATES the gym!) and discovers that she's actually thirty-nine, has three children, and is in the midst of an acrimonious divorce.” This is a chick-lit book with a lighter tone.
I enjoyed this, although you have to suspend disbelief that in 10 years someone would have completely changed their habits and personality. And while someone who has experienced a head injury might forget a day or two before the event, I don’t think anyone has ever forgotten 10 years.
The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes. A man wakes up on a beach, naked. Nearby he finds a car with clothes that fit him - and a gun. He realizes that he must be the man who owns these things - a man named Daniel Hayes. And he begins to realize he may have killed his wife.
Like a lot of books that begin with a good twist, the explanation for the twist is a tad strained. But fugue states (when the victim can’t remember anything about himself) are real, if rare.
Forgotten. The publisher says: “Each night at precisely 4:33 am, while sixteen-year-old London Lane is asleep, her memory of that day is erased. In the morning, all she can "remember" are events from her future. London is used to relying on reminder notes and a trusted friend to get through the day, but things get complicated when a new boy at school enters the picture. Luke Henry is not someone you'd easily forget, yet try as she might, London can't find him in her memories of things to come.”
What I liked best about the book was the way it portrayed relationships between London and her best friend and especially between London and her boyfriend. The disorder she suffers is, as you’ve probably guessed, not real, and her ability to see the future seems to wax and wane as it best serves the plot.
The one thing that drew me out of the book (which was a very fast read) was a mystery subplot. It felt tacked on and the information on how police would identify a body was completely wrong.