Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac

( 218 )

Overview

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 ...

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Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac

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Overview

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 get all his inside jokes, and maybe he wouldn’t be so frustrated with her for forgetting things she can’t possibly remember.

She’d know about her mom’s new family.

She’d know about her dad’s fiancée.

She wouldn’t have to spend her junior year relearning all the French she supposedly knew already.

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.

 

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

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In her imaginative second novel, an unusual love story, the highly acclaimed author of Elsewhere offers a unique exploration of teenage identity and self-discovery. The heroine, a teen who is forced to re-invent herself and reconstruct her life after she suffers a head injury that leaves her with a four-year memory loss, grapples with many issues teens will find familiar: romance, changing friendships, and a dysfunctional family. But this teen’s amnesia gives her the perspective to see herself and others clearly for the very first time. At times funny and always thought provoking, this tale effectively touches upon themes of chance, loss, and choice, in a moving story readers won’t soon forget.
From the Publisher
“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 Book Review

 

“Sensitive, joyful . . . Pulled by the heart-bruising love story, readers will stop to contemplate irresistible questions.”—Booklist, Starred Review

“Zevin is just a great writer. . . . [She] gets all the details right.”—The San Francisco Chronicle

“Zevin blends romance, changing friendships, and familial dysfunction with themes of chance, loss, and choice, and the result is a quiet exploration of identity and self-realization that is simultaneously thought provoking and entertaining.”—Voice of Youth Advocates

“Unique . . . Will be well received by teens.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Honest and complex characterization grounds a thoughtful, suspenseful examination of memory and identity.”—The Horn Book

“Zevin cooks up an entertaining love 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.”—Publishers Weekly

“A compelling read with intelligent dialogue that’s also touching and funny.”—School Library Journal

“I would definitely recommend this book to my high school students, especially teen girls.”—The ALAN Review

“A good read.”—Kathy Taber, Kids Ink Children’s Bookstore, Indianapolis, IN

“This book seems to be really accurate about how teens think . . . very refreshing and a great read!”—A YALSA YA Galley Teen Reader

“Zevin, already a great author, has outdone herself.”—A YALSA YA Galley Teen Reader

“Zevin is a smooth and subtle stylist, creating particularly interesting characters here.”—The Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books

“This was a memorable book. Naomi was a likable, realistic character.”—A YALSA YA Galley Teen Reader

“This book was hard to put down.”—A YALSA YA Galley Teen Reader

“It conveys a sense of normal teenage pressures, but also presents a unique story.”—A YALSA YA Galley Teen Reader

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

  • ISBN-13: 9780312561284
  • Publisher: Square Fish
  • Publication date: 6/23/2009
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 87,599
  • Age range: 14 - 18 Years
  • Lexile: 720L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Gabrielle Zevin’s debut novel, Elsewhere, was an ALA Notable Book and a Quills Book Award nominee. Of her writing, The New York Times Book Review said, “Zevin’s touch is marvelously light even as she considers profundities.” She lives in New York City.

Biography

Gabrielle Zevin, in her own words:

"Before I liked to write, I liked to type. I remember visiting my grandmother Adele in Ponce Inlet, Florida, when I was three years old, and she had an IBM electric typewriter. I thought that this electric typewriter was about the most fascinating toy in the world -- I liked the little bell and the sounds and the feel of the keys and especially the erase key. Grandma Adele would set me up with plenty of paper and I'd be entertained for hours. I would type pages and pages, mainly nonsense, but sometimes my name or lists of words I knew. I can't remember when the nonsense changed into something more organized and storylike, it just did. (Will the monkey eventually type Shakespeare? Not yet.) The first stories I wrote were autobiographies, because, at that age, I found myself a most intriguing subject. Still, the autobiographies were largely fictionalized. I'd sometimes leave space for illustrations and sew the pages together when I was done. And for many years, this was the extent of my fiction career.

"When I was around eight, I learned how to touch-type at school, and I received a computer as a present. I started writing plays, and for many years I thought I would be a playwright. Over the years, I had studiously managed to write everything but novels -- I had been a copious pen pal, a first-class transcriptionist, a professional screenwriter (still am, actually), a teen music reviewer, a mediocre research-paper writer, and, of course, a writer of plays. So, although I was not writing novels, I was always writing something. Actually, I hadn't ever felt any particular calling to be a novelist, and I clearly remember telling a friend of mine about six months before I started work on Elsewhere that I would NEVER write a novel. And then I thought of the idea for Elsewhere, which did not seem to want to be a play or a screenplay. It kept sounding awfully novelish in my head, and though I was a little scared, I just sat in front of my computer and started to type. So it was fortunate that I liked typing, because I would be typing Liz's story for many a moon. Although I still write screenplays, I've written two other novels since writing Elsewhere. And I'm happy to report that I still like the sound of the keys."

Gabrielle Zevin has had several screenplays optioned by film studios. Gabrielle is a 2000 graduate of Harvard with a degree in English and American literature. She was born in New York and lives there still with one pug dog, Mrs. DeWinter, and her partner of ten years, director Hans Canosa.

Author biography courtesy of Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

Good To Know

Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Zevin:

"I don't believe in writer's block."

"I own a pug dog, like the one in Elsewhere."

"My first novel, Elsewhere, was actually published three months after my second novel, Margarettown."

"For me, writing about the afterlife was really a way to discuss the important things about this life."

"I wish that the adults who are 'in power' cared more about what their children read. Books are incredibly powerful when we are young -- the books I read as a child have stayed with me my entire life -- and yet, the people who write about books, for the most part, completely ignore children's literature."

"One of my favorite book quotes is from The Unbearable Lightness of Being: 'We can never know what to want, because, living only one life, we can neither compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come.' "

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 24, 1977
    2. Place of Birth:
      Poughkeepsie, New York
    1. Education:
      A.B. in English and American Literature, Harvard College, 2000
    2. Website:

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—”

“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?”

“Zuckerman.”

“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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 218 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(92)

4 Star

(61)

3 Star

(35)

2 Star

(19)

1 Star

(11)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 218 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 11, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent read

    In this book, Naomi Porter falls down a flight of stairs and hits her head. After the fall, she can't remember anything since sixth grade. She can't remember her best friend, her boyfriend, or her parent's divorce.
    This book was definitely written in an intriguing way. From the very beginning, I was hooked. Gabrielle Zevin mixes in the perfect amount of mystery and romance throughout, and I thought that it was an enjoyable, yet thought-provoking book. The character descriptions were flawless, and I was kept guessing until the end. I wasn't sure what Zevin would bring to the story, because I was slightly disappointed with Elsewhere when I read it, but she pulled this book all off in an easy way that makes this novel a quick and easy read, but one that will not soon be forgotten.

    30 out of 33 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Beautifully written dealing with sensitive issues

    As you would expect from the title, it is written in 1st person narrative dropping us straight into Naomi's life following an accident where she gets a nasty head injury wiping out her memory of the past few years. Only certain aspects like all her personal life yet she can still remember things like maths & science. Funny how the brain works :)

    The book is written in 3 sections. The 1st section is called I was. It deals with Naomi trying to piece together the type of person she was before the accident. It gives her new insight into events that have occurred within the years the is unable to remember. She is also able to look back at her previous reactions objectively which helps give her a different perspective.

    The 2ND section is called I Am. Where although Naomi is still unable to remember the last few years she takes the opportunity to redefine herself into the person she feels like on the inside rather than the person everyone but herself can remember. She cuts her hair, dumps her boyfriend, drops a few things at school and starts a new relationship with James, the boy who was at the accident, finds some new friends and takes a part in the drama production. Gabrielle Zevin does a wonderful job of depicting the horror that is depression within the narrative. Although we as a reader can see that the romance between Naomi and James is doomed, you can also appreciate the qualities that draw Naomi to James. At points I literally wanted to scream at Naomi to leave James as she couldn't help him and was only hurting herself. Powerful writing to inspire that sort of reaction don't you think?

    The 3rd section is called I Will. Although Naomi regains her memory she doesn't tell anyone for awhile afraid to fit the 2 halves of herself together, the Naomi before the accident and the Naomi she created in order to redefine herself. The narrative gives wonderful insight into the difference between how we feel about ourselves and how other people see us. As Naomi comes to terms with all the events in her life she puts into practice the new perspective she has gained and discovers true love in the process.

    A beautifully written book dealing with some sensitive subjects one of which is depression. Terrific music references again. A really good read :)

    16 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Not quite what I had hoped.

    The moment I read the synopsis of this book in Barnes & Noble, I was hooked. The title alone was enough to kindle my curiosity, and I bought it without a second thought, in hopes that the story would captivate me as much as the cover. I chose this one as my book club novel without reading it first, and I'm sad to say that this might have been a mistake. It was not a bad book, nor was it boring. The writing was simple and delightful to read, but it was the character development that I wasn't impressed by. Sure, the main character [Naomi] grew throughout the story, but from page 200 on, I felt as if the author got tired of writing her story. Naomi just didn't seem real to me -- I couldn't relate to her at all -- and neither did her relationships with the other characters. The beginning, however, was exactly as I had hoped it would be, but towards the middle and end, I became less and less interested. I guess 3 stars will have to do, given my mixed feelings on this novel.

    12 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 25, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Is it weird that I wouldn't mind being an Amnesiac after reading this...lol

    This book was amazing! There is a lot of symbolism in this story as well (in the first few page you know who the love story will refer to I U typo..once you read it you will know what I mean). Will is just about the best friend that I could imagine having. He is always so understanding and always puts Naomi before himself and what he wants (obviously Naomi ). I recommend this book to all!

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2007

    Could have been good.

    The idea of a teenage amnesiac is a really good idea for book. But Noami comes off as, well, pathetic and at times bratty. You would think that losing years of your memory would make you really think about your life and you would be crazed with trying to figure out who you really were. But all she cares about throughout the book is James. Don't get me wrong, I am sucker for cute romance stories, but when he leaves her at the beach for hours, shes doesn't even care. Any normal girl with reasoning would be spiting mad. Her journey in recovering her memory was boring. I only recommend to read it if you are in the mood for a quick, easy, and non-realistic book.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2008

    It wasn't good

    I was so excited to read this book. The reviews were great, it had a high rating... Then I wasted my money on a book I wish I never took off the shelf. The story line is good, don't get me wrong, it's just...it wasn't good overall. The main character annoyed me for some odd reason, and I don't know...I just didn't like the writing style at all. If you love the author's books, then you'll probably love this one. I personally have never read any of her books and I don't think I'm going to anymore. I've read better and it just doesn't compare to my favorites. Check it out from the library before buying. I wish I did...

    5 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2012

    Anynomus

    This book sucked

    4 out of 34 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2009

    Eww!

    Man, I don't know why this book got such great reviews. It was horrible. Gabrielle Zevin GREATLY needs to learn how to write; it was painful. The story idea was good, but somehow it turned into another boring teen "He-likes-her" and "she-likes-the-same-guy-as-her" story line. I stopped half way through. Don't read it. And if you do, don't buy it. Borrow it, but don't throw away your money.

    4 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2013

    I LOVED THIS BOOK!! When I first read the first few pages I kind

    I LOVED THIS BOOK!! When I first read the first few pages I kinda thought that it would be boring and the story would just be slow about her not remembering anything. But it was GREAT!! I love how it turned out but one thing that I didn't like too much was the ending. It was good, I still like it but I wish it would've turned out like how I thought it would be like. But it was still a very good ending and it was like it had a message to it too. :) 

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Okay Book.

    This book is interesting, it kept my attention, but it isn't that good of a book. It kind of dragged on and on very slowly which was annoying. I didn't like James because he was really strange and weak and pathetically mopey. Will was okay guy. I liked the scenes involving her parents. Overall, it was just so-so.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2012

    Blank

    Who ever wrote a review on February 3 and gave it one star, your teacher probably didn't let you read because you don't no how to spell. What is not spelled like wut, cuz or cause is improper it is because, and what does biut even mean. This is sad for a freshman, I would have thought you 5. By the way the book isn't that great, thats just my opinion. You could borrow it from a library if you want to try the book, but if you don't you could just not finish it.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2008

    It was Okay

    This book was alright. I remember wanting to read this book so bad but when i actually got it from the library it wasnt that great. I read this awhile ago and don't really remember the names of the characters. But, i just remember being disappointed.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2008

    What I thought of it

    I've heard from magazines and from some close friends that this book was amazing. I was so excited to read it so I had to book it online, wait a couple weeks for it to come in the library, and as soon as I heard it was in, I was STOKED. However, when I started to read it, I lost concentration and had to force myself to read it... I was dissapointed. This isn't a very good read, espeacially if you're on a 7 hour airplane ride.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2008

    okay...

    the book was ok.. it started out good but later james turned out to be a mentally unstable person and the ending is very cliche. stereotypical, but it's ok.. not great, nor the best.. but an ok book to read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2014

    Her realtionship with James

    So in all the reviews it mentions how James says he is her bf right? He is just sying that so he could ride in the ambance after she fell. Her entire relationship with him isnt as sacdelius as all the reviews say.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2014

    Very interesting

    I read this as research ad i was doing a charactrr study about someone who has amnesia, and i ended up enjoying it much more than i originally anticipated. Very fun read

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2013

    tarrable

    If yor name is aidan and u liVe in va right

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2013

    Great Book

    This book wasn't only fictionally realistic but very intriguing from the synopsis, the first page and to the aknowledgments at the end. Loved it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2013

    Great story!

    This is a great book to show how people can change so hugely. I thought that "chief" changed well i can't imagine her differently. A must read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2013

    I enjoyed this book becasue this could happen to anyone at any s

    I enjoyed this book becasue this could happen to anyone at any second. Have you ever lost a coin toss? I have and it costed me dearly. I ended up having to leave my cozy warm bed to get my brother a glass of water. Well my coin toss wager did not end up like what fate had in store for Naomi. Naomi lost memories from the past four years forgetting her friends, and the drama created with family. We both picked heads and lost, but my loss wasn’t as big as hers. Zeven’s book has a way to gain your attention right from the start. The book makes you imagine you are there with Naomi and experiencing what she is going through. The decisions she makes have an affect on her life and her personality. I recommend this book to teens in middle school and high school, around Naomi age so they can under stand her more but my mother read this book to and she thought it was really good too.

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