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 fiancée. 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.
Who are you without your memories? If you had to start over, would you make the same choices again? When Naomi loses four years of memories in a head injury, she must reconsider who she is and who her friends are. While the cast of characters in Gabrielle Zevin’s Memoirs of Teenage Amnesiac are not always likable (and who is, really?), they are treated honestly. Naomi is surrounded by an array of men, from her boyfriend Ace, a tennis-obsessed popular kid, to her best friend Will, who puts together thoughtful mix tapes and looks out for her, and James, a depressed bad boy who finds her after her fall. Each of these relationships is complex, at times loving and at others disappointing, and each of them contributes to Naomi’s self-discovery. Ultimately, it is the friendships Naomi discards and those she regains that tell us about the person she becomes as she regains her memories and makes new ones.
Quotable Quotes from Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac
“Above all, mine is a love story. Unlike most love stories, this one involves chance, gravity, a dash of head trauma. It began with a 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’ve had the faintest whisper of love about it. But maybe not. Sometimes, a girl needs to lose.”
“You forget all of it anyway. . . You forget who was cool and who was not, who was pretty, smart, athletic, and not. . . You forget all of them. Even the ones you said you loved, and even the ones you actually did. They’re the last to go. And then once you’ve forgotten enough, you love someone else.”
“Love stories are written in millimeters and milliseconds with a fast, dull pencil whose marks you can barely see, they are written in miles and eons with a chisel on the side of a mountaintop”
“I was crying for gravity. It had sent me down the stairs and I thought that had meant something, but maybe it was just the direction that all things tend to flow.”
Tags: friendship, high schools, identity, memory
Filed under: Book Review