I love winter break. Aside from getting to rest, relax, visit Josh’s family in Connecticut, and reflect on how amazing 2012 was, I also got to read. I love immersing myself in a good book, but somehow never seem to get around to it in-between classes and work. I love PBFingers book club and was so excited when I saw her January book club pick was What Alice Forgot.
The book jacket description right away intrigued me and sounded like perfect winter break reading:
So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym (a gym! She HATES the gym) and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, , she has three kids, and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes. Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over…
The book follows the life of Alice, Elisabeth (Alice’s big sister), and Frannie (a family friend Alice grew up thinking of as her grandmother). I love Alice’s character and her struggle to try and connect the life she remembers with the one she currently has that seems so foreign to her. To lose 10 years of your life, become a person you never thought you could be, and have zero memories of how your marriage fell apart or your three kids has got to be a hard thing to wake up to. Young Alice was carefree and silly and full of excitement for her life ahead. Older Alice is hurt but hard, independent, strong, and organized in every aspect of her life . The fact that a person could change so much in ten years was eye opening. Even though it was fiction it made me think, what will I be like in ten years? And how can I keep myself from making mistakes like Alice did? (Nick, her husband, made a lot of mistakes too, I was just thinking about it from my perspective.) The strongest thing about this book has got to be how it makes you feel like this could happen to anyone.
I also was fascinated by Elisabeth’s story. Elisabeth and Alice used to be the best of friends, but as Alice started to become more and more of a Stepford wife, Elisabeth found herself battling her inner demons after multiple miscarriages and failed IVF attempts. All her and her husband wanted was a family and it seems to be the one thing they can’t have. Elisabeth always had a can-do attitude that was slowly replaced with cynicism, doubt, and depression. Her sole purpose becomes to have a baby of her own, and it makes her lose sight of everything else she has to live for.
Frannie is their spunky older next door neighbor who now lives in a retirement center. She was there for Alice and Elisabeth after their father died when their mother couldn’t be. She was engaged when she was younger to a man named Phil. He died two weeks before their wedding and she still after all these years has been unable to move on, writing him daily letters about her life. Hers, while the least exciting of the three stores in this book is nevertheless a good story about the ability to accept hardship and embrace change.
This book was a real page turner. I spent the day reading and couldn’t stop until I was finished. It was such a great book, I never felt sure I knew what would happen and the ending was such a satisfying one. I highly recommend it to everyone looking for a book to get sucked into.
Questions of the Day: What did you think of What Alice Forgot? Were you happy with how everything ended? Could you imagine waking up ten years from now and finding out your life is so different than it is now? Would you have handled it differently than Alice?