My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I think sometimes we underestimate how much we change from year to year, let alone what happens to us over the span of a decade. After all, ten years ago I was 23 and in my first year of teaching at a rural high school in Utah. I had been in two recent car accidents and was struggling to deal with the constant pain I was in. My younger sister was about to get married, and I was distracted by memories of a boy that I'd been involved with moving on so completely. I was happy overall but felt like I didn't belong where I was and was unsure where to go. Fast forward ten years - I'm 33, living in California, and I'm in my ninth year of teaching having taken a couple years in the middle off for grad school. After another car accident five years after the first two, I found someone who helped alleviate pain from all three accidents. Now, there are whole days and weeks that I don't think about my neck and back hurting. My sister has been married for ten years next week and has had four beautiful babies. I have now been married for a year and a half to my own sweetheart and am undergoing fertility treatments in hopes of babies of my own. All of those things are just the beginning of what happened in the last decade. They hardly cover all the day-to-day experiences, the people I've met, and the people I no longer talk to, the changes that technology has made, the election of our first black president, and the election of a horrible reality tv star...not to mention the people who have died or the lessons I have learned. Where would I even begin if I had a chance to chat with my 23-year-old self?
"What Alice Forgot" is like that conversation for Alice Love - only she is is 39 with three kids and living in Australia but thinks she's 29 and pregnant with her first baby. I don't know if I would have loved this book so much if the epilogue hadn't been so fulfilling, but I was literally holding my breath waiting to know how everything would turn out. I thought Moriarty's characters were clever and well spoken without being inauthentic. The world she created was relatable, and I wouldn't be surprised if she had spent time in the community I teach in.
Like Niffenegger's "The Time Traveler's Wife" and Asher's "The Future of Us", I will think of this book over and over again because of how much it has made me wonder at the passage of time and how life can be both so predictable and unpredictable at the same time. I also will keep thinking about my 43-year-old self and whether she would be happy with the way her younger self is living. I wouldn't want her to be disappointed.
Happy reading and happy remembering--