Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin
Paperback, 271 pages
Published September 17th 2007 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
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 get all his inside jokes, and maybe he wouldn’t be so frustrated with her for forgetting things she can’t possibly remember.
She’d know about her mom’s new family.
She’d know about her dad’s fiancee.
She wouldn’t have to spend her junior year relearning all the French she supposedly knew already.
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.
My thoughts: This was an enjoyable and fast read. Poor Naomi has fallen down the steps in front of her school and can’t remember the last 4 years of her life. As far as she knows, her parents are happily married and she is not even in high school yet. When she wakes up, her parents are divorced and have new families, she has some serious chemistry with bad-boy James, she’s taking classes she doesn’t like and is the co-editor of the yearbook.
I really felt sorry for Naomi. I can’t imagine how scary it must be to wake up one day and have nothing be the same. She was scared and wanted her mom to comfort her, but it turned out she and her mom weren’t even on speaking terms anymore. People expected her to be the same person she was, and she just didn’t know how to be that person.
To look at me, no one would even think anything much had happened—all I had were bruises and some stitches—but inside, I felt different. I worried about not recognizing people and not acting the right way. I worried about having to explain things when I barely understood them myself. I worried about everyone staring at me and what they would say.
Her friends were understanding in the beginning, but they got tired of the new Naomi pretty fast. James was pretty much the only new friend she had, and he only knew the new her, not the Naomi she used to be. He had some secrets from his past, sure, but I liked that he didn’t hide them, or make her feel bad about what happened to her.
Will, Naomi’s co-editor, was another great character. He and Naomi may or may not have had something going in the past. (Although I wondered why he didn’t just come right out and say something one way or the other to her.) He missed his old friend and co-editor and tried to be her friend, but also tried to let her find her way on her own, even if her new life didn’t include him or the yearbook. Ace, her boyfriend, was a real jerk. Instead of being understanding, he just kept trying to get into her pants.
I liked the dialogue, though very occasionally, it seemed to venture into middle grade territory. Nothing that stands out explicitly in my mind, but more of an overall feeling. Of course, that may have been because the protagonist felt like a middle grader. There was nothing swoon-worthy here, though there was a sweet moment every now and then.
The cover is perfect. It fits the story and I love the question mark key. The colors are dark and the title fades at the bottom, like poor Naomi’s memory.
The sum up: Gabrielle Zevin really made me care about Naomi and her future. I think that’s a good indication of how I felt about the novel.