When Alice Love wakes up, she is fully convinced she is 29 years old, pregnant with her first child and happily married to the love of her life. But in reality, it's 10 years later. She has three children, whom she doesn't remember, and is in the process of getting a divorce. She can't believe it. She won't accept that their perfect marriage is no longer. She believes there is nothing that would have led her to become the woman she seems to be at 39 years old, and she is determined to get her husband back and return to the tranquility of 10 years ago.
In What Alice Forgot, Liane Moriarty makes everyone ~ characters and readers alike ~ reflect on what it would be like to see the present from the eyes of your 10-year-younger self. Being 39 years old myself, I found I was able to relate incredibly well to Alice's feelings as she comes to grip with where her life has gone. Friends have changed, perspectives on life have changed, priorities have changed. She and her husband have gone from the magical time of early marriage, first home and the dream of starting a family to resentments, parental obligations and career challenges.
It sounds a lot like real life. Actually, What Alice Forgot, despite the rather unbelievable premise of someone bumping her head and forgetting 10 years, is quite realistic. And Moriarty does an amazing job of presenting a realistic picture of what Alice is thinking throughout the entire ordeal, including the last few chapters, which I was a bit concerned about. I will say I was content with the ending. It seemed genuine. But I certainly don't want to give it away.
One aspect of the story that I did not expect was the other voices. Alice's sister, Elizabeth writes journal entries to her therapist that speak to the infertility struggles she's had over the past 10 years and many other aspects of her life and Alice's. She fills in a lot of the details as to why she and Alice, who were extremely close 10 years ago, are now so far apart. Their "grandmother," Frannie, also writes letters that offer a different perspective on life, changes and moving forward. I enjoyed both of their stories, and thought they worked well to offset Alice's story.
Overall, I really loved this novel, perhaps because I could relate so well to Alice. Ten years ago, my husband and I could lie in bed on Saturday mornings as long as we wanted. We were free to enjoy each others company and go to shows or dinner or whatever we felt like doing on a particular day. But today, we have kids. We have more responsibilities in our careers. We are busy and tired and life is not nearly as relaxing. But that's okay. One is not better than the other. They are just different lives, and I think this is what Alice has to learn as well. Growing up and having kids changes things ~ drastically. That's life.
I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys contemporary fiction and especially to anyone whose life has changed a great deal in the last decade. It's fascinating to think of how you would react to losing those 10 years of memories.