Thursday, July 21, 2016

The BBRBF Book Club: What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

Welcome to July's edition of The BBRBF Book Club! This month we read "What Alice Forgot" by Liane Moriarty and also welcomed Lyndsey from Dressed in Mascara to our quaint club of readers. As always, don't forget to keep an eye out on Kristina's and Noelle's blogs for their reviews. This book has so many covers out there, I'm curious to see how many we get to style this month!

For me, I paired my pink lemonade Julie Mollo retroversible skirt (it's yellow on one side and pink on the other!) with my brand new blue Harley top from Pinup Girl Clothing (speaking of, why has no one told me how AMAZING these tops are? They're a flattering fit and they zip DOWN! Whaaaaat? I already ordered another in red!)

"What Alice Forgot" is an interesting read as well as emotionally draining. I tend to imagine stories as if they happened to me as I read them and this one was a doozy on my heart! It begins with Alice waking up from a fall off her exercise bike at the gym, not knowing where she is or what year it is. Actually, she THINKS she knows what year it is - she claims it is 1998 and she is pregnant with her first born. In truth, it is 2008 and she now has 3 kids!

At the hospital, the doctors all claim she simply has a concussion and for some reason don't seem all too concerned with her lack of memory. She remembers nothing from the past decade! Can you imagine? As Alice learns facts of her life, we learn them to. I like when a novel keeps the reader in the dark with the protagonist. It annoys me in some ways because I just want to know everything but it also keeps me intrigued.

At first, it was heart wrenching to read this book. Especially the chapters that covered the first day or two after her accident where Alice is desperate to see her husband Nick and no one seems willing to tell her where he is. She loves him, she can't wait to see him, and in her time of need, just wants to curl up in his arms. That sense of urgency to see the one you love is so familiar to me. I felt it as I read the pages.

As you start to realize that in the present time, Alice and Nick are no longer together and are filing for divorce, it breaks your heart. As Alice is told about their split and she has to face the reality that has Nick despising her, my heart shattered. She wakes up in love (because she thinks it's 10 years earlier) and is told the man she loves pretty much hates her guts.

OH MAN. The THOUGHT of going through that just tears me up inside. It makes me think of my life and what that would be like - to suddenly imagine Cody HATING me? I can't even comprehend that kind of relationship or what it must feel like to literally wake up to that reality - it would destroy me.

See? Heart wrenching.

Still, I soldiered on. This book is so well written - I think that is why I felt such strong reactions to Alice's reality. It is my belief that a piece of writing is supposed to make you feel things, If it doesn't, the author didn't do their job properly at all.

The more we read, the more you're supposed to prefer the 1998 Alice to the 2008 Alice. As Alice learns about her present self, she too dislikes her and wants to be her old self (or true self since she has no memory of her current self). While I did appreciate 1998 Alice with her adoration for dessert and yummy food, I kind of respected the current Alice with how much she took on daily. Was she a demanding and cold-hearted bitch? Yeah maybe. But she got shit done and was such a girl boss! She just maybe could have been a bit nicer to some people...

There was this one bit about dating and self confidence that I wish I had highlighted when I read it because I loved it. Alice talks about being with her ex and how he always made comments on her weight and it made her watch every single thing she put in her mouth and caused her to always diet. When she was with Nick, she never felt that judgment and always felt beautiful with him. Because of that, she indulged and gained some weight but was happier because she was in his comfort cocoon.

The ways I can relate to that! Oh man! Though I never had an ex judging my weight, I still feel the relief and comfort that Alice described having with Nick. Confession time: I have gained maybe 15-20lbs since meeting Cody nearly 5 years ago and even though some days I wonder what the hell happened and how did the number get so high, most days I don't really care. Cody always calls me beautiful, thinks I'm a sexy woman (which makes me laugh but I'll take his word for it!), and loves every inch of me - even the ones gained. He doesn't give me a judgy look if I opt to have dessert or reach for another cookie (in fact, he's the one who brings me donuts and flowers when I have a bad day!), he allows me to feel beautiful and comfortable and free to do whatever I want. I love every inch of him back because of that.

Hmm...have you caught on to something here? No, not that I love Cody to pieces (though I totally do)! Remember what I said before about a good book making you feel things? Well, I had some really good connections and relatable moments with this book and that made me really love reading it.

One element I could have lived without were the interludes of Elisabeth, Alice's sister, and her journal entries that her therapist has made her write. While Elisabeth's story is relevant to the book, I kept wondering why she was getting such a large focus. As I read her entries woven between Alice's prose, I kept thinking to myself "OK enough from the baby sister, can we just get back to the story?"

The other interlude - yes two characters had their own bits between the main bits - were letters written by Frannie, the girls' grandmother, to her long lost love. While I saw the relevance of Elisabeth's entries (it definitely illustrated her strained relationship with Alice as the story went on), I have no idea why the heck we needed Frannie's letters. I mean, why? There was enough going on in the story on its own, why the need for Elisabeth's journal entries AS WELL AS Frannie's letters? I mean, two? Really?

I sort of thought perhaps the relevance of both interludes would become obvious as the book came to a close but I didn't catch on if any "aha!" moments took place. I may have started skimming those bits halfway through anyway...