Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac

3.9 221
by Gabrielle Zevin

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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

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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 know about her mom's new family. She'd know about her dad's fiancée. 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.

After her remarkable debut, Gabrielle Zevin has crafted an imaginative second novel all about love and second chances.

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac is a 2008 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

Editorial Reviews

Polly Shulman
Zevin is completely convincing on the intensity of early passion and the way it can evaporate in the rays of something new, and she has a light touch with the deceptively shallow anguish of adolescence.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Departing from the science fiction premise of Elsewhere, Zevin cooks up an entertaining love story out of what her narrator calls "chance, gravity and a dash of head trauma." As the novel opens, 16-year-old Naomi has fallen down a flight of stairs and lost all memory of the past four years. She doesn't remember her parents' divorce (not to mention her mother's remarriage, her half-sister and her father's recent engagement to a tango dancer). Her best friend, Will, with whom she co-edits the school yearbook, and Ace, her tennis-player boyfriend, seem like strangers. What Naomi does remember is James, the first person she saw after her accident. The image of the boy-who helped her to the hospital and stayed to make sure she was all right-lingers as she tries to sort out her past and her feelings. Well-defined characters and convincing narration camouflage the Lifetime-movie premise and the inevitability of every plot turn (no one will doubt which characters will become romantically involved and who will end up together). Naomi, adopted in infancy from a Russian orphanage, can summon up more than enough hidden emotional depths to counterweight the slicker aspects of the story; teens will identify with her vulnerability and her heightened feelings of alienation. And fans of psychological dramas won't want to put this book down. Ages 14-up. (Sept.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
VOYA - Carlisle K. Webber
When Naomi Porter realizes that she and Will Landsman, her best friend and co-editor of the yearbook, left a brand new $3,600 camera in the yearbook staff offices, they toss a coin to see who will make the trek from the school parking lot to the offices and back. Naomi loses the coin toss, and while she is walking back down the front steps of the school, she slips and falls. In desperation, she dives to save the camera. The camera survives intact, but Naomi does not. She hits her head on the steps and wakes up in an ambulance next to James Larkin, who claims to be her boyfriend. Naomi has no recollection of meeting James, nor of anything else that has happened in the last five years. Her friends and family are eager to help her get back to her life, but she is not certain that she wants to go back to being the person that everybody tells her she is. The everyday events of Naomi's life appear to be standard-issue, young-adult-novel fare but Zevin takes romance, changing friendships, and familial dysfunctions and blends them with themes of chance, loss, and choice. The result is a quiet exploration of identity and self-realization that is simultaneously thought provoking and entertaining. Subtle humor helps to balance the abundance of serious themes. Peripheral characters are quirky and endearing, and Naomi is someone whom readers will love, hate, and want to be. This book will generate discussion and pass from teen to teen.
Kirkus Reviews
Zevin constructs a unique take on the teenage question of "Who Am I?" New York City sophomore Naomi Porter must re-invent herself, re-construct her life and undergo a re-birth on her journey back from a head injury that leaves her with nine stitches and a memory loss spanning the four years since sixth grade. She struggles to adjust to her high school's caste system and to comprehend the roles of four males in her life. Ace, the tennis jock, is her forgotten boyfriend. Will, her yearbook co-editor, doubles as her best friend, and then there's the hauntingly intriguing James, her new crush. Her father, the fourth guy, loses her trust when Naomi discovers her parents are divorced and he plans to remarry. Rather than listing her many amnesia problems, Zevin deftly reveals Naomi's dilemma with concise phrasing. " ‘Hello,' I greeted myself. ‘I'm Naomi.' The girl in the mirror didn't seem convinced." This unusual love story has only a few lapses and will be well received by teens intrigued by the concept. (Fiction. YA)

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Product Details

Square Fish
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.90(d)
720L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

“Are you Ace?” I asked, remembering what James had said about my having a boyfriend.
Will removed his black rectangular-framed glasses and wiped them on his pants, which were gray wool like James’s had been. I would later learn that removing his glasses was something Will did when embarrassed, as if not seeing something clearly could in some way distance him from an awkward situation. “No, I most definitely am not,” he said. “Ace’s about six inches taller than me. And also, he’s your boyfriend.” A second later, Will’s eyes flashed something mischievous. “Okay, so this is deeply wrong. I want it on the record that you are acknowledging that this is deeply wrong before I even say it.”
“Fine. It’s wrong,” I said.
“Deeply wrong.”
“Good.” Will nodded. “I feel so much better that you don’t remember him either. By the by, your man’s a dolt not to come.”
“Dolt?” Who used dolt?
“Tool. No offense.”
“Leave. Right now,” I said in a mock stern tone. “You go too far insulting Ace . . . What’s his last name?”
“Right. Zuckerman. Yeah, I’m really outraged about you insulting the boyfriend I don’t remember anyway.”
“You might be later and if that’s the case, I take it all back. Visiting hours only started a minute ago, so he’ll probably still come,” Will said, by way of encouragement I suppose. “If it were my girlfriend, I would have been waiting outside before visiting hours.”

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