Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac: A Novel

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac: A Novel

by Gabrielle Zevin

Paperback(First Edition)

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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 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.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312561284
Publisher: Square Fish
Publication date: 06/23/2009
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 240,078
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.90(d)
Lexile: 720L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About 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.


New York, New York

Date of Birth:

October 24, 1977

Place of Birth:

Poughkeepsie, New York


A.B. in English and American Literature, Harvard College, 2000

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.”

Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

The book opens with Naomi in an ambulance with amnesia. As Naomi is discovering who she is, so are you: as she is now, who she has been in the past, and who she wants to be. Focus on some of the things she discovers about her life over the last few years: some of them feel right, such as her friendship with Will; some startle her, such as her mother's remarriage; some mystify her, such as her relationship with Ace.
1. Build a profile of Naomi pre-amnesia.
2. Describe some of the "watershed" moments for Naomi--times when she does not act like the girl she was--for example, when she cuts her hair or quits yearbook. How are the actions defining who she will become?
3. Amnesia gives not only Naomi a second chance but also others in her life. Pick a character and examine how Naomi's amnesia affects his/her life.
4. Why is the fact that Naomi is an orphan important? How does the author weave this theme throughout the story?
5. Explore the symbolism of Naomi's being found as a baby in a typewriter case. How else are typewriters and books relevant to her story?
6. Photography is a recurring motif. How does it enrich the story?
7. Discuss the role of music throughout the book.
8. Compare and contrast Naomi and James.

9. Examine the scene in which Naomi's memory returns. Why is it significant that it is the French word for camera that seems to open the floodgates? Why are the two memories Naomi recounts--and the individuals they involve--pivotal?
10. Read the prologue again. Speculate: Would Naomi have made some of the same choices/charges if she had not experienced amnesia?
11. What would you do with a second chance?

Customer Reviews

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Memoirs of A Teenage Amnesiac 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 260 reviews.
Jessi-21 More than 1 year ago
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.
asamum More than 1 year ago
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 :)
songofthestars91 More than 1 year ago
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.
acsimps More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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. :) 
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
CaroTheLibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When 16 year old Naomi falls down some steps she loses any memory of the last 4 years of her life. She doesn't know that her parents have divorced or that she and her dad have moved house. She doesn't know that she has a boyfriend, and doesn't recognise her best friend Will when he comes to visit in hospital.The book is split into 3 parts: I was, I am and I will, and follows Naomi as she attempts to make sense of her past, present and future. As she relearns about herself she realises that she may not want to pick things up where she left off. A coming of age novel with an excellent set of characters and an unusual plot.
FabulousandFeminist on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I borrowed this from the library purely because it had been on the suggestions stand for a while. It wasn't until I got home that i noticed it was Gabrielle Zevin.I think Elsewhere is more beautiful, brings tears to your eyes but this one felt more real, like even though you don't have a life anything like that you begin to become a part of it. I never expected what came next and I loved the way it was doe without trying to make this girl too perfect or two faulty. She felt like a real person. Brilliant.
aimeerose1992 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I did NOT like the ending
hammy_volleyball6 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very good book would read again
HeatherMS on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿memoirs of a teenage amnesiac¿ by Garielle Zevin is a story about a 17 year old girl who falls down a flight a stairs and suffers a head trauma. Naomi is the main character and because of the head trauma she ¿loses¿ the past four years of her life. This story is told from her point of view and begs the reader to ask themselves that if they lost the past four years, would they be the same person?In this story the focus is mostly on Will (aka Coach) who is Naomi¿s best friend, Ace who is her boyfriend, James who is the bad boy, and Naomi¿s dad. As Naomi tries to reconstruct the past four years of her life, she finds that she didn¿t necessarily like the person that she was. As a reader, I find that I didn¿t particularly like the person Naomi was before the accident. She is portrayed as a spoiled popular girl who is primarily focused on herself. Since her accident, Naomi has essentially become the opposite. Since her last memories were of sixth grade, she is amazed at how much has changed in the interim. Her mother is remarried with a daughter (when did her folks get divorced?), her dad has a girlfriend (does Naomi like her or not), she is dating the athlete (really, what did she see in him), and what exactly is her relationship to her best friend, Will. As we go with Naomi on this journey, we learn along with her what type of girl she was and what type of girl she wants to be. This was a good YA book. The title immediately caught my attention and drew me in. Ms. Zevin does a good job with her characters and capturing what it might be like as a teenager in high school. There were a couple of moments that were a little far-fetched such as when Naomi is left on a beach for 5 hours without any idea when her boyfriend (who said he would be back in an hour) will return. When he does, she isn¿t mad. I don¿t know many people who wouldn¿t be furious if that happened to them.Overall this was a fun read. I felt that the author did a good job and that teens and adults alike would enjoy this story.
callmecayce on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've read some criticism of this book, in that it focuses far too much on boy + girl = the goal. I do agree that that's probably the biggest fault and problem with this book. Unlike her previous novel, Elsewhere, there weren't as much holes in the plot. Naomi falls, hits her head and has (what her doctors, friends and family hopes) temporary amnesia. She remembers her past -- up to a point. She loses something like four years of her life, including her boyfriend, best friend and high school. She falls in something akin to love along the way, only to realize that things aren't quite what they seem. I found this book to be both moving and quite good, even while the focus of the book is centered far too much around girl + boy. Although, when you're in high school, often that's the only thing that really matters.
DF1A_BethanyH on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book because the main character teaches you about what is really important in life. Before her accident, which resulted in memory loss, she was dating a jock that didn't treat her right. She begins to realize that another guy might be the right one for her.
mhg123 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
DF1A_SarahG on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a pretty good book. It had an interesting plot. I liked the characters and it kept me wanting to read more and find out what happened next.
TigerLMS on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A high school yearbook student gets a fresh look at her life after she falls down the school steps and, as a result, can't remember a thing since the sixth grade. Everything is a surprise-- who her boyfriend is, that her parents are divorced, who she has chosen as friends. Zevin's light writing style makes this novel both humorous and sublime as the character realizes the people she keeps as friends aren't all that nice-- and the people she begins to like she has offended in the past. Yearbook kids and student journalists aren't the only ones who will like this novel, which is a 2009-2010 Misssouri Gateway Readers nominee.
su_library_student on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Naomi is a popular athlete, a junior, and co-editor of her high school yearbook when an injury results in amnesia. Naomi can't remember the last 4 years of her life and a lot has happened in that time including the divorce of her parents. As each day passes, Naomi learns a little bit more of who she was and doesn't necessarily like what she learns. The story has lots of drama, humor, heartbreak, and a love story which will keep the reader turning the pages.
SunnySD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Tennis player, yearbook co-editor, girlfriend, best friend, orphan, adoptee.... Waking up in the hospital after what she's told was a fall down the high school steps, Naomi Porter doesn't know exactly who she was beforehand. Because of a coin toss and a camera, she's lost four years worth of memory (the camera's okay, though). As each day brings new surprises - her mom has a new daughter?! - she begins to question the life she had before.Identity seems to be the question of the day. I liked Naomi from the start, and although the plot is fairly predictable, the tone is upbeat and the characters are entertaining. When I put it down, I wanted to pick it back up to see what happened next - usually the sign of a good book.
stonelaura on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When Naomi bumps her head falling down the stairs outside her school she loses four years of memories and, while it is frightening and unsettling, it gives her a whole new perspective on her interests, her social position in school, her estranged relationship with her mother, and quite possibly her taste in boyfriends. When she suddenly regains her memory she¿s afraid to upset the new balance she¿s achieved, but ultimately realizes what¿s really important. The character of troubled James starts off strong, but fizzles a bit when he dips into mental strain, and his opposite, best friend and general good guy Will seems to be a bit one-dimensional. But overall the book is fairly good and would be easy to recommend to teen. It¿s fairly clean (perhaps a bit of drinking and a cigarette or two) with no sex beyond kissing and a predictable romantic resolution for Naomi in the end with all loose ends tied up.
tiamatq on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There are several reviews that sum the book up very well, so I won't take a lot of time doing it. The short version is that high school junior Naomi Porter takes a fall down her school's stairs and the resulting bump causes her to lose the past four years' worth of memories. The book is divided into three sections, pertaining to Naomi's memories (or lack thereof), her attitude towards life, and her relationships with Ace (her boyfriend), James (the enigmatic and exquisite brooding guy that discovers her on the stairs), and Will (her best friend who supposedly knows everything about her).The tone and style of this story felt so perfect. I wish I could write like this. None of the characters were far beyond belief, and Zevin creates a story where you can feel for each character, even the jerks. Yes, it's a love story, but it's more a story about remembering and forgetting people, relationships, and yourself. It doesn't hammer any messages home, but gives you a year of Naomi's life and how she reconciles herself with her past and makes choices for how she'll live her life. It's beautiful and funny and sweet and sad. I think that's something all books should try to be. I don't know that I'm really doing the book justice, so I'll just say that you should go out and read this book!On a side note, one of the characters deals with depression. This was probably one of the hardest parts of the book to read. Zevin does such an excellent job of showing that transitions from "normal" as this character stops taking medication. You feel badly for Naomi, who puts herself in a fairly dangerous situation, as well as this character, who seems to be falling apart while desperately trying to keep things together. I really appreciate the way that Zevin handles this part of her story.
cazedbooker1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I forund this book intreguing because if it's contents. It's about a girl who tries to remember her past after she hits her head. In this book she learnes about friendship. For readers 12- up
taramatchi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the 2nd book I have read by Zevin (read Elsewhere). I loved it. I instantly fell in love with Naomi and her quirky friend, William. This is a love story that is different, but yet so normal. I think Zevin was able to capture the confusion that someone would feel if the last 4 years of memories is erased. How the people around you would want you to be the person you were and not the person that you are now. How the experience would make you see who you had become and question how it happened. It is brilliantly put together and the writing was simply stated and easy to read. The story kept me reading and I hated putting the book down to do other things. I loved the idea of the "orphan," and how many ways it played within the story. Highly recommended to anyone who likes a good love story.