A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this book is about a high school girl who rediscovers herself after losing four years of memories. In the process, she finds her own birth control pills, is kissed passionately by her forgotten boyfriend, becomes infatuated with another boy with a dark past, is drunk at a party, lies to her father, and relearns ugly details of her parents' divorce, including her mother's affair. In addition to teen drinking, there is a male character who smokes cigarettes, talk of an attempted suicide, and a disturbing discussion on wrist-cutting technique.
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What's the story?
The summer before their junior year of high school, Naomi Porter and her best friend Will, both co-editors of the yearbook, flip a coin to see who has to retrieve an expensive camera they left out. She loses, finds the camera, and trips on the stairs. The bump on her head takes away her memories of the past four years. She no longer remembers Will, her parents' divorce, body changes since the sixth grade, her boyfriend, or her likes/dislikes as a teen.
Along the way she and her boyfriend Ace break up and she connects with the boy who found her on the steps and rode with her to the hospital. His own dark past and journey in self-discovery help jump-start a romance between them. Once Naomi reevaluates who she is, she makes important changes involving meaningful relationships in her life.
Is it any good?
Author Gabrielle Zevin has nailed this one for teens. Amnesia or not, most teens want to erase and start over at some point in adolescence. MEMOIRS OF A TEENAGE AMNESIAC allows readers to live vicariously through Naomi, who's lost four years with one spill down the stairs. As Naomi gathers clues to her past, she discovers she likes and dislikes certain things about herself. Can she go back to being that person -- and does she want to?
Her reevaluation has many consequences, including better relationships with her parents and friends, and a test of those relationships. This book offers a great opportunity for young adult readers to get to know a teen character as she forges a new identity. Her evolution may inspire teens to think about their own relationships and choices and what it takes to make positive changes in their own lives.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Naomi's memory loss and how it changed her. Who does the reader like better: the old Naomi or the new one?
Why is amnesia such a popular plot device in soap operas and other stories? How does it create possibility? Does the idea of starting anew appeal to you?
For kids who love coming-of-age stories
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