October 2007

Building memories, one by one

By Gabrielle Zevin
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Sixteen-year-old Naomi Porter could tell you all about how she was found in an empty typewriter case in a Russian church, but I hate orphan stories, she declares in Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac. This psychological novel by author Gabrielle Zevin instead presents a first-person account of Naomi’s unusual love story, which, she reveals, involves chance, gravity [and] a dash of head trauma. After falling down and hitting her head on the front steps of her high school, Naomi remembers nothing from the past four years of her life, not even her parents’ divorce, her three-year-old stepsister, her father’s upcoming nuptials to a tango dancer, her reasons for dating Ace, the tennis team captain, or her interest in co-editing the yearbook with her best friend, Will. Her first memory since the fall is of James, the edgy boy who found her and helped her to the hospital.

Naomi knows that she should be grateful to Will for his constant reminders about her former interests, actions and relationships, yet she soon finds him to be irritating and stifling. Overwhelmed by the pressure to remember anything about her previous life, she cannot stop thinking about dating James, who has an equally mysterious and dangerous? history, even if it means losing herself all over again.

Although Naomi must now reconcile her past, present and future, her accident has given her the opportunity to repair her estrangement with her mother, form her own identity and realize her real true love (this is a love story, after all). Never mind that the plot sounds like the latest soap opera; Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac is a riveting narrative with compelling, complex characters. Enthralled by Naomi’s honest, fresh voice and her occasional wry, direct appeals to the reader, teens will find her tale unforgettable.

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Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac

By Gabrielle Zevin
Farrar, Straus
ISBN 9780374349462

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