Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child. 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...
Last night, I hosted a book club meeting at my house. There was wine, cheesecake, chicken salad, and fun to be had! Earlier this month, I picked "What Alice Forgot" by Liane Moriarty. Today's review will be a little different, as I'm going to cover a couple of discussion questions in the back of the book that we covered last night.
1. Did you like the younger Alice the best? Or did you relate more to the older Alice?
Group consensus: Younger Alice was naive and needy, and a tad bit annoying. However, older Alice was bitter, and jaded.
My thoughts: I didn't think it was fair to pick which version of Alice I liked. After all, a decade of life experiences seperated them. I liked younger Alice because of her naivete. I liked how she viewed the world with silliness, and yes, it was annoying that she relied on other people to bring her up.....but didn't we all at that age? Which brings us to questions two and three.
2 and 3. What would your younger self of 10 years ago, think of the person you are today? What would surprise your younger self about the life you are leading? What would disappoint you?
Group consensus: Varied. I mean between all of us, our experiences differed. Some of us 10 years ago, was in high school, others in college, some had just had their first or second child and still fresh into motherhood.
My thoughts: 10 years ago, I was 24 and trying to get out of college as fast as I can. I was probably having panic attacks about my upcoming nuptials, and graduation. I would look at my 34 year old self and wonder where the strength came from. I'd marvel at my daughter, and coo with the baby. 10 years has given me so much grief, wonder, job experiences, new friends, new towns/cities, growth, faith, anger, depression. I wrote, and was published by a small traditional publishing house , which my 24 year old self would be shocked that we managed to cross of that dream. But then for all the tears, bargaining to God, and prayers; my 24 year old self would be disappointed that I'm not even working after all that we've been through! But then I'd shout and say, listen, you have no idea how much daycare for two kids cost because you think you'll live close to family and always have that access to free babysitter/daycare. I mean, at 24, I went to the movies, restaurants and roadtrips at the drop of a hat. At 34, I have to wonder if the cost of babysitting is worth a trip to the movie. FYI, it's not. The last one charged me $15/hr + $5 for the baby. $20 for ONE HOUR.
Our identity as we get older changes due to our life experiences gained over time. I was a college student, and therefore I was everything about that identity. Post graduation, I went from jobless with a college degree, to my Nutritionist/Site Supervisor title. That became my identity for almost 6 years. I am a wife to my husband. And then five years ago, I became a mother. During our discussion, we shared that motherhood is something that society places so much emphasis on. The working mom. The stay at home mom. The woman with the infertility issues. The woman with too many kids. The woman who was too old to have kids. The woman who was too young to have children.
As a woman, we identify our future selves knowing that in our hearts, we will probably wind up with a kid or two. But as much as I love my own kiddos, I understand that it may not be the "end all/be all" for a lot of women. And that's okay. I don't think the woman is selfish. Or too career driven. Or too "stressed" to not let nature do its job. There are way too many factors about the whys, and I'm not going to judge someone for their choices or lack thereof. I appreciate Elisabeth's letters. She gave me insight on what it was like to go through failed IVFs, miscarriages, and what that must have been in their marriage. To have that in her identity card. To hold your breath at each ultrasound and let out a cry in the dark at each 'no heartbeat' heard.
This book with its colorful cast of characters made me think about what would it be to misplace 10 years; What would my family look like? What would they think of me over the decade? Would I even like what they have to say? As they say, some learned or unlearned lessons, and mistakes are blessings in disguise. These are the things that Alice examines after her accident. She has to relearn her identity before, and after the accident. Is she better for it? Perhaps. Or perhaps, she needed to reclaim her old self after all that has happened. Maybe she needed to redo the spiraling madness. But to do the redo, would you trade forgetting your life? Yes, you don't have to remember the grievances, or the hurts, or the rage. But then you'll have to forget the happier ones like kissing your husband at the altar, and then holding on to your precious baby, seeing their first steps, and watching them grow. These are some of the precious memories and experiences that time gave her are What Alice Forgot.....and I don't think anyone would trade those for a redo.
About the Author
Liane Moriarty is the Australian author of six internationally best-selling novels, Three Wishes, The Last Anniversary, What Alice Forgot, The Hypnotist’s Love Story and the number 1 New York Times bestsellers: The Husband's Secret and Big Little Lies.
The Husband's Secret has sold over three million copies worldwide, was a no. 1 UK bestseller, an Amazon Best Book of 2013 and will be translated into over 40 languages. CBS Films has acquired the film rights.
With the launch of her novel, Big Little Lies, which has sold over one million copies in the US alone, Liane became the first Australian author to have a novel debut at number one on the New York Times bestseller list. An HBO series based on the book is currently in production with Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley playing the three lead roles.
Liane’s newest novel, Truly Madly Guilty, will be released in July 2016.
Liane lives in Sydney with her husband, son and daughter. You can find more at www.lianemoriarty.com and www.facebook.com/LianeMoriartyAuthor
Book Club Pick:
I use Goodread's rating scale
1 star – didn’t like it
2 stars – it was OK
3 stars – liked it
4 stars – really liked it
5 stars – it was so amazing, it's on my reread pile!