The Teen Reader

Your source for reviews and ratings on every type of YA fiction.

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac

Posted by Rachel on July 9, 2009

Author: Gabrielle Zevin

Genre: General fiction, romance

Reading Level: Moderate

Rating: PG for teenage themes

Summary: “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 fiancée. 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.”

Rachel’s Review: I found this book while I was looking for Zevin’s other novel, Elsewhere (I was going to read it and review it for this site). But I stumbled across this book instead. And what a happy happenstance it turned out to be.

Zevin gets into this teenage girl’s head, literally I guess you could say, and allows this girl a chance to re-evaluate her life. The book is split into three (very appropriate) sections: I was, I am, and I will. I would like it to be put on the record that I really love the way Zevin organized the novel; I think it’s really quite lovely.

Anyways, so since Naomi hits her head and gets amnesia, the first section is devoted to her not remembering who she was. She is looking at her life like an outsider with an insider’s pass, and it’s interesting. She’s searching for clues of who she was and why she was who she was, and Zevin even writes that Naomi isn’t exactly happy with what she finds.

Next, as Naomi is growing and maturing and beginning to look forward from her past a bit, we transition into ‘I am.’ Here, Naomi is defining herself, not by what she used to be, but by who she believes she is now. She breaks ties with her “past life,” for better or for worse (it’s really all up to your interpretation).

Finally, ‘I will.’ The book concludes with Naomi pretty much coming full circle. And I don’t really want to give anything away. . . Mwahahahahaha. . . . 

P. S. I would like to add that I wish Will was a real person. *Sigh.* I wish, I wish. Anyways. . . hehe.

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