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I Forgot to Remember: A Memoir of Amnesia (Simon & Schuster Nonfiction Original Hardcover) [Kindle Edition]

Su Meck , Daniel de Vise
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (108 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The courageous memoir of a woman who was robbed of all her memories by a traumatic brain injury—and her more than twenty-five-year struggle to reclaim her life: “[A tale] of triumph in the search for identity” (The New York Times Book Review).

In 1988, Su Meck was twenty-two and married with two children when a ceiling fan fell and struck her on the head, erasing all her memories of her life. Although her body healed rapidly, her memories never returned. After just three weeks in the hospital, her physicians released Su and she returned home to take care of her two toddlers. What would you do if you lost your past?

Adrift in a world about which she understood almost nothing, Su became an adept mimic, gradually creating routines and rituals that sheltered her and her family from the near-daily threat of disaster—or so she thought. Though Su would eventually relearn to tie her shoes, cook a meal, read, and write, nearly twenty years would pass before a series of personally devastating events shattered the “normal” life she had worked so hard to build, and she realized that she would have to grow up all over again.

In her own indelible voice, Su offers a unique view from the inside of a terrible injury as she “recounts her grueling climb back to normalcy…in this heart-wrenching true story” (O, The Oprah Magazine). Piercing, heartbreaking, but finally uplifting, I Forgot to Remember is the story of a woman determined to live life on her own terms.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* It was a freaky accident. When a ceiling fan fell and struck her, Su Meck received a gash in her forehead. She writes, “This was the day that my old life ended and my new life began.” The old Su was rebellious, the new Su was compliant after suffering not only a traumatic brain injury (TBI) but also complete retrograde amnesia as well as anterograde amnesia. Essentially, the accident wiped out her memories and prevented her from making new ones. Yet somehow she has stitched together an identity. Her first life began when she was born in 1965 and lasted until the spring of 1988, when the accident occurred. Everything after that consists of her second life, in which she depends on others to fill in the gaps with “anecdotes about who I was, what I did, and how I lived.” In this remarkable memoir, Meck chronicles her experiences as she learned to live in “a house full of strangers.” She discusses her marital troubles with great frankness as well as her frustration with herself, her family, and members of the medical community who did not take her injury seriously. Compelling and inspirational and, one hopes, an important impetus for ongoing brain research. --June Sawyers


“Meck’s matter-of-fact delivery makes the harrowing details of her ordeal stand out all the more. . . . [A] tale of triumph in the search for identity.” (The New York Times Book Review)

"The author recounts her grueling climb back to normalcy after an accident robs her of her memory and sense of self in this heartwrenching true story." (O, the Oprah Magazine)

“A big achievement . . . poignant.” (The Washington Post)

“[Meck] pieces together a fascinating tale of life after suffering head trauma as a young mother.” (New York Review of Books)

“A remarkable story that readers won’t soon forget.” (San Francisco Book Review)

“A remarkable memoir . . . unnervingly honest, straightforward to a degree that makes every other memoir I’ve read seem evasive, self-conscious, and preening. . . . Unlike that of everyone else around her, [Su Meck’s] adult life wasn’t the result of imagining a happy future, pursuing it with a sense of purpose and then figuring out whether or not her dreams have been fulfilled, betrayed, or misbegotten. Her life was simply ‘the way things were’—until, that is, she realized she was in a position to have some say about that. And seeing her seize that opportunity makes for a happier ending than any fairy tale can offer.” (

“The true story of a woman who at the age of 22 was whacked by a ceiling fan and lost her memory . . . Quite the tale.” (New York Daily News)

I Forgot to Remember, which was written with the elegant assistance of a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, is more than a memoir or report on the devastating effects of traumatic brain injury. It is a shocking story about betrayal and trust . . . astounding.” (Maclean's)

"Remarkable . . . an arresting story about what it's like to live with amnesia." (The Hampshire Gazette)

“Thoroughly fascinating…There are many conditions and diseases that remain hidden this way. This book is a great way to get a glimpse behind that curtain and gain a greater sense of understanding and compassion.” (Gering Citizen)

“Best to have a box of tissues on standby for this one.” (

“Su Meck has made the unimaginable tangible, and we are fortunate to have gotten the chance to know her as she journeys through her own introduction to herself.” (

“In this remarkable memoir, Meck chronicles her experiences as she learned to live in ‘a house full of strangers’ . . . . Compelling and inspirational and, one hopes, an important impetus for ongoing brain research.” (Booklist, starred review)

“Compelling . . . Meck relates with excruciating honesty her journey out of oblivion.” (Publishers Weekly (Books of the Week pick))

"A brave testament of willpower and perseverance against almost insurmountable odd." (

“Su’s story has given us all pause to consider just how much we don’t know about the brain and its injuries.” (

"Following a traumatic brain injury that erases every memory from her past, Su Meck takes us on her remarkable journey forward as she stitches her identity back together one thread at a time. A fascinating memoir about resilience, courage, and hope, I Forgot to Remember is not just a survivor's story. This is a hero's story." (Lisa Genova, New York Times bestselling author of Love Anthony)

"One ordinary day, Su Meck lost her memory. This is the highly unusual story of how she remembered herself—and reconciled the person she was with the world around her. Her story will surprise and engage anyone who has wondered about the role that memory plays in all of our lives." (Alexandra Horowitz, author of the New York Times bestseller Inside of a Dog)

"I Forgot to Remember is a brave and raw story about the damage and trials a head injury can inflict on an entire family. Su Meck's spellbinding tale of life, injury and then the arduous task of re-learning everything, even down to how to love again, reminds us all of the importance of living in the moment and the need to cherish the memories we own." (Lee Woodruff, coauthor of the #1 bestseller In an Instant)

Product Details

  • File Size: 5001 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (February 4, 2014)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,735 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Su Meck's extraordinary book, "I Forgot to Remember: A Memoir of Amnesia," made me feel like I was reading a tension-filled child-at-risk suspense thriller rather than a memoir. I became totally engrossed, practically gripping the book in two white-knuckled hands. I could barely put it down. It held me spellbound. It filled me with a whole array of negative and positive emotions. Mostly, I desperately wanted someone to help this woman!

The "child" was Su Meck, a 22-year-old woman who suffered a traumatic brain injury (a ceiling fan falls on her head) and, after a remarkably brief three-week stay in the hospital, is released to the care of her 23-year-old husband. He obviously loves her and wants to do the best for her. He's described as a sort of software geek; it becomes quiet obvious very early that this guy is immature, selfish, and has a severely damaged ability to empathize with what his wife is going through. Despite the fact that she had virtually complete retrograde and anterograde amnesia and was, for all intents and purposes, an infant, she was expected to take care of herself, two infant boys (18-month-old Patrick and three-year-old Benjamin) and have dinner on the table and the house cleaned when her husband came home from work. This was a woman who didn't know what a stove was, much less how to use one! She had to be taught how to comb her hair and eat with a fork. She only had a vocabulary of about 100 words. If you showed her a can opener, she had no idea what it was. In addition, she had an extremely faulty short-term memory that was, at least in the first three years post accidnet, almost totally unable to retain anything. She couldn't remember what to eat, when to eat, how to shop, how to do laundry, etc.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Severe Brain Injury Leaves an Impact January 30, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I had a friend in college that had TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), and at the time, I didn't understand it. I chose this book because my dad died of dementia, which is a totally different brain injury, but I was curious as to know what living with TBI is like. This book didn't disappoint as the author (with help) wrote a very honest assessment of what her life was like.

It starts off in a halting way, as she tried to remember the day she lost herself. It was a freak accident. She ended up losing all of her memories and had to be retrain on even how to do some of the simplest tasks like brushing her teeth. She was released from the hospital in three weeks with little physical therapy. This is her story of how she tried to reclaim her life day by day, often-times forgetting even the simplest things.

As I read this story, I am struck anew by a simple fact. Ms. Meck has had no physical therapy to help her navigate her new world. She has had no help in raising her children that she doesn't even remember giving birth to. My college friend had physical therapy for years in just how to remember the simplest things and when I met her, she would adhere to a routine in studying that was very intense. It was the only way she could study is by repetition. As young as I was then, I didn't understand her need for repetition. After reading Ms. Meck's story, I do understand it more. It is amazing how a simple cut to the head can shatter a life.

One of the issues that bothers me is the way her husband treated her throughout their marriage. I am glad that she's able to deal with it on her own terms, but it was uncomfortable for me to read. Another issue that bothers me is the lack of support Ms. Meck got from the medical community and from other people in her life.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I am always interested in reading about the brain and memory so this book hit the spot for me as far as subject matter. Since the book is actually written by the woman it happened to (with help from a writer) you really get her personal perspective and learn what it would be like to have this kind of loss in your day to day living.
I found myself starting to feel impatient for her at just how much she cannot remember. But that s the point really, there is so much she really never is able to remember and this book describes what an impossible situation this can be. She relies a great deal on her eldest son even when he is quite young to help her daily because as with most people, she could not afford home care and help there. Even though she overcomes some big challanges nothing about this is easy. I never knew how to really feel about her husband in the end but was glad she addresses this because it is complicated and they are both very young adults when this story started. Life is complicated and it's so much more complicated when a brain no longer works as it did. It takes it's toll on everyone involved.

I agree completely with the author when she mentions (near the end of the book) how important it is for us all to stop thinking about head injuries like they are no big deal. They deserve our focused concern and attention.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating book with appeal of universal truth February 9, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I devoured this book in one sitting because I could not put it down. "I Forgot to Remember" should be ready by every neurologist and by every occupational therapist in the country, because the brilliant writing describes the inner experiences of people with traumatic brain injury. The marriage sounded very difficult, and I was not impressed with Su's husband.

The writing was engaging and flawless. Based on Su's descriptions of her own writing, and examples in the book that Su shared, I believe that the credit for the writing must go to Dan de Vise, even though the story is Su's.

As a parent myself, I enjoyed the story about the uncomfortable meeting with Su's son's teacher.

One of my favorite parts was the description of tuna fish meals.... I would quote it, but it will be more fun if you find it yourself.

I was struck by the fact that many of Su's issues are similar to problems shared by some people on the autism spectrum. The need for routine, the resistance to changing environments, and the difficulty filtering overwhelming sensory stimuli, are all common experiences for people on the spectrum.

Overall, a fascinating and meaningful book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good, real, informative.
Published 1 month ago by Leah
4.0 out of 5 stars A revealing account of a person's fight to overcome the effects of...
It is written in the first person and although very detailed , it is told in a fragmented way similar in her attempt to create her "new"personality and life post THI. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Christy Morgan
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by Allen B.
5.0 out of 5 stars A book of its time that can help many. Su Meck should be speaking in...
From the beginning Su Meck drew me in with her balanced, rational approach combining clinical information and personal story. And what a story. Read more
Published 4 months ago by K
2.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating
I personally found this book so frustrating due to the poor medical care this woman received. Being a medical professional seeing the lack of discharge planning and the lack of... Read more
Published 4 months ago by vicki g ginsburg
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational and maddening at the same time
"I Forgot to Remember: A Memoir of Amnesia" (2014 publication; 287 pages) brings the story of Su Meck, who in 1988 at age 24, suffered a horrifying accident when the... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Paul Allaer
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommend
I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up this memoir, but whatever I may have thought before I began reading, I was not disappointed when I finished. Read more
Published 4 months ago by L. Campbell
3.0 out of 5 stars Not worth it...
I'm giving this three stars, which I feel is more than generous. I loved the description of this book. Unfortunately, the reality of it simply does not hold up. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Lizzie
2.0 out of 5 stars hard to read
This book was tedious to read, every small detial of any occurance was included.
Published 5 months ago by Cheryl Adkins
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Published 5 months ago by Regina Clark
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