Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac

Book review by
Pam Gelman, Common Sense Media
Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac Book Poster Image
Lost memory leads to some honest soul-searching.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 8 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Can open up discussions about coming-of-age stories and what's attractive about starting a new life. See our "Families Can Talk About" section for some ideas.

Positive Messages

Once Naomi reevaluates who she is, she makes important changes involving meaningful relationships in her life.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Naomi's evolution may
inspire teens to think about their own relationships and choices and
what it takes to make positive changes in their lives.


The main character falls down the stairs and loses her memory. Talk of an attempted suicide using pills and slitting wrists, and of wrist-cutting technique.


Mentions of birth control pills and The Joy of Sex. Some kissing and fondling, and a teen boy gets rough with a girl. Main character's divorced father is sleeping with his girlfriend. Two high school friends are lesbians.


"Bulls--t," "damn," "hell," "dick," "bitch."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens drink. The main character has one drink, becomes drunk, and must call her father for a ride. A boy smokes cigarettes.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byAllie F. March 26, 2018

As long as your mature enough for an awesome book, your good

It sends out a good message of really thinking about your actions and how understanding someone and seeing a full view of the event is more important then what... Continue reading
Adult Written byalicepeacock April 19, 2010

Great book

This book was truly amazing and arguably one of the best I have ever read. Naomi is an inspirational character, and although she makes some bad decisions, build... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byMadeInTheUSA July 29, 2013

Awesome Book!

This Is an AWESOME book! It has references to sex, wrist cutting, and affairs but if you already know about that stuff and you understand it, its a really good... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byfettuccini9564 March 16, 2011

Not Worth the Time

eh... I have read much better books on this same subject matter. Pretty crude. I don't think I'll ever read it again.

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?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love coming-of-age stories

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