Saturday, June 21, 2014

Tea Time: Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac

**Warning: Spoilers May Abound**
Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, 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 fiancĂ©e. 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.

Cover-Who doesn't find typewriters fantastic? The fact that a close-up of a typewriter is the picture used for the cover of this novel makes me smile, particularly because it kind of fits with thoughts of writing a "memoir" in that both ideas are a bit classic. Then the question mark is singled out due to its more cursive and curly nature as opposed to the other sans-serif letters, highlighting the point that this book is about an amnesiac.

Overall, I think the cover is simple and classy and pretty artfully done.


Narrative-This book is told in the first person POV from the perspective of the resident amnesiac: Naomi. What struck me, personally, about the writing style was that it all felt slightly distant, told passively in the way a typical memoir would. At the same time, though, I wasn't bored to tears. Still not sure how that happened.

The pacing was well done and overall the writing was interesting while I followed Naomi through her life as she tries to remember her life (she lost about 4 years, I think).


Plot-The plot, itself, is fairly simple: due to a head injury, Naomi can't remember approximately the last four years of her life. This includes her parents' divorce, her mother's her family, her father's fiance, meeting her best friend, getting a boyfriend, etc. All things that have a huge impact on her life in the present.

Truthfully, I love novels like this, that include a character who has no memory (for some reason) because it gives them a chance to be who they really are (in my opinion). Since they can't remember, they have no qualms about asking the questions they want to ask, behaving the way they want. The exception is when people look at them funny and say, "You never used to do/think that," or "You always used it [fill in the blank]."

With this book, I wasn't disappointed. Naomi questions her boyfriend, tries new things, gains new friends, and tries to figure out why, exactly she did or said the things people said she did. It's a complete self-discovery that's full of a girl trying to take back her life, instead of letting other people tell her how things should be.

There's also a lot of lying and general high school drama, the latter of which wasn't overplayed the way I feared it would.


Characters-Alright, almost done. (I feel like I'm jacking ya'll in not being as detailed as usual, but this is one of those books that I don't have much to say)

Naomi. She's funny and usually has a point in the things she says. Of course, she's lost and confused most of the book, but she puts on a brave smile as she tries to piece her life together and figure out if she wants to be who she was or who she currently is. However, I think the character that really stole the cake is:

Will, a.k.a. "Coach" (he calls Naomi "chief"). Will's the perfect best friend. Motivated, funny, always has something to say, and he's right there by Naomi's side while she goes through, well, everything. He answers her questions, tries to get her reoriented, and I feel like he put up with a lot from Naomi that I would have slapped her for.

Since I said that, I should clarify: a lot of what Naomi did kind of pissed me off, just in the way she acted toward her family and best friend. I don't mean her actions toward Ace, her boyfriend (let's face it, he deserved what he got). I mean the people who literally did nothing but stand by her side, and she just betrayed their trust and ditched them. So that really made me mad.

Last character I'll talk about: James. I like him because he's complicated and because, as a character, he provided so many bumps in the road. For about a third of the novel I couldn't help but try and decipher the things he did and the way they connected with his past, and it made me try and guess what happened with him later in the story (which I typically got right). So he was a bit predictable, but hey we can't all be perfect.

Basically, I'd read the book again just for Dex.


So . . . mostly there wasn't much for me to say about this book. I mean, I didn't hate it, but I wasn't bouncing up and down in my chair wanting to read more. It was a light read, relaxing; basically, I don't regret reading it, but . . . yeah. Just not much to say.

Final Answer: 3.75 / 5

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