YA Fiction of 2007: Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac is an atypical romance story in which girl meets boy at about the same time girl has a head injury and loses four years of her memory. And it turns out that girl already has a boyfriend, not the one who’s there when she loses her memory. In fact, there’s even another boy who’s her best friend, and she doesn’t remember him either. So there’s lots of scope for misdirection and suspense and who-will-get-together-with-whom. (In fact, one of the characters in the book says that the entire story reminds her of a Shakepearean comedy.)

And, for the most part, it works. Naomi Porter, the girl amnesiac, is a junior in high school with an already complicated life and set of relationships before she has the accident that wipes out her memory. Afterwards, things only become more complex. Does she hate her mother whose divorce from her father Naomi can’t remember? Does she hate her father’s new girfriend, Rosa Rivera the tango dancer? Is Will her best friend or something more? Is James, the tortured but handsome movie maker, her true love, or does she love Ace, the popular tennis player? It may sound like a trite romance, but beneath the surface of the story Ms. Zevin deals with some substantial questions about memory and how the past informs the present.

Unfortunately, for Christian young adults, some minor details about the plot and characters may be offensive. If you can ignore the lesbian friends and the assumption that most, if not all, teenagers have casual sex with their boy/girlfriends, the book is an excellent read with some thoughtful themes interspersed with the romance and confusion.

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