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The Memory Box: An unputdownable psychological thriller Paperback – June 25, 2014
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THE MEMORY BOX is a Houston Writers Guild 2014 Manuscript award winner.
"THE MEMORY BOX is a literary rarity--a story of high imagination cast with characters who seem as authentic as they are complex. From the moment Caroline Thompson dares to Google her own name, the stakes and suspense develop, treating the reader to a can't-put-it-down mystery."
-Sidney Offit, author of Memoir of the Bookie's Son
"In her impressive first novel, THE MEMORY BOX, Eva Lesko Natiello tells the fascinating story of a woman whose memories piece together a self-portrait she doesn't recognize--until those memories yield to the terrible secrets they conceal."-John Biguenet, author of The Torturer's Apprentice and Oyster
"Epically creepy. . .creepier than Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl. After the last word, I had to take a deep breath, and think of cute, comforting things, like kittens and baby hedgehogs to stop the chills running through me." -- Sally Allen, Hamlethub
"5-STARS" -- San Francisco Book Review
"...be prepared to toss that suburban fairy tale away, grab on to the steering wheel, and hope that you get through this obstacle course with all your mental faculties... Eva Lesko Natiello shows tremendous talent and courage in her creation of a powerful dichotomy, reaching beyond boundaries." -- San Francisco Book Review
"The Memory Box left me feeling stunned . . ." -- onlinebookclub.org
". . . this one comes along and tears to shreds everything you thought you knew about the genre . . . and just when you think the book may have hit the limits of its genre, another sinister twist pushes it into serious Gone Girl territory." --Bustle
About the Author
Eva Lesko Natiello is an award-winning author and graduate of SUNY Albany where she received a degree in psychology. She was born in Yonkers, NY and currently lives in suburban New Jersey with her family. Ms. Natiello's debut psychological thriller, THE MEMORY BOX, is a NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY Bestseller and recipient of a Houston Writers Guild Manuscript award. When not writing suspense novels, Ms. Natiello enjoys writing humor and satire which can be read on her website evanatiello.com and The Huffington Post. Her short story, The Wordsmith, was a finalist in The Writer Magazine 2012 Best Short Story. Ms. Natiello is especially grateful to her readers for their enthusiasm, the time they take to write reviews, get in touch or spread the word. She is at work on her next novel.
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The conversations between the characters in this book were hollow and there was no chemistry between any of the characters.
Spoiler alert...Typically with a book like this, I am rooting for the heroine in the end, hoping that she gets away with it, but in this case, I was really hoping they would cart her away .
It is told first person, and while that can be masterfully done, for instance: "The Room" This was not. And it's not just that I didn't like the character (because that's not really necessary) It is because I found her behavior to be just so unpredictable that I had no clue as to who she was. She's the wife of a loving husband and two girls, has a wonderful life--then finds out some disturbing information about herself on google that has her questioning everything about herself. My first thought was--Well why aren't you going to your husband with these fears? But okay...she decides not to. The story continues, something else bizarre happens, and she continues to make choices that just don't make sense. I kept thinking "What are you doing that for?" This goes on and on as she continues to make more and more irrational and unpredictable decisions. Even her own stream of consciousness becomes unpredictable, seemingly disingenuous to the character. Okay--So maybe that's the point. Maybe it is her decent into madness? No, that's not it. She just gets mean, nasty and spiteful with no explanation as to why.
Her behavior begins to unravel in the book and I felt as though I was just all over the place with this character, until I stopped caring what happened to her. That's not a good sign.There does come a plot twist, that is somewhat redeeming, but it comes too late in the book, and by the time it did, I'd already gotten frustrated with it.
I found it on a list of "9 Books you can't put down" Trust me, you will be able to put it down.
Some people like to Google their own name just to see what the world can know about them. Caroline Thompson was not one of those people. It was her friends who googled her name. They only found three hits. Caroline almost felt insignificant. The feeling lingered until she got the idea to Google her maiden name, Caroline G. Spencer. Initially, several hits returned information. She was impressed and knew that not all hits could relate to her. As she attempted to cull the information for items relevant to her, she found information about her sister, a sister who had died many years before. But she had just talked to her sister, hadn’t she?
From this point on in the novel, the reader observes Caroline slipping in and out of fugue-like states. Is she suffering from a type of amnesia? Is she recalling elements of past lives? There are lots of questions in this well written complex novel.
Natiello is an author writing about a writer (Caroline) who is writing a book. There are a few novels that have used this idea, such as the Stephen King popular novel (and movie) Misery. But Natiello adds at least one more layer to her story. There might be reader disagreement on this point. The novel takes on the characteristics of an onion, one which Natiello peels slowly.
Caroline has children, Lilly and Tessa, and a husband. I felt the character of the husband was not well developed but I also felt it was a purposeful non-development by the author. The husband was a great distraction for the reader. I was conjuring up all kinds of things in the life of the husband. I should have been looking elsewhere; I was wrong.
Initially, Caroline can’t believe her sister is dead. She uses her writer’s research skills to attempt to resolve the mystery. As the novel progresses and she begins to accept that her sister is dead she “sees” and feels parts of her past life. Memories are triggered. The memories don’t always come and go quietly; sometimes she seems to retreat inside herself and be unaware of the world around her. This scares Lilly and Tessa and concerns Andrew, her husband. It also leads to physical injuries as she falls and hits things while in a nearly unconscious state. This, in turn, leads to doctor visits which further lead to psychologist visits.
And the past is revealed. Or maybe not. There are surprises on every few pages. And no, you can’t go to the end and read the ending first. This very well written novel demands that you go through several hoops before being rewarded at the end. The story wouldn’t make sense without the knowledge gained from peeling the onion one layer at a time.
I look forward to reading more from this author. This will be a tough story to top.