After my recent binge on John Green books, which are pretty much all about teenagers falling in love for the first time, I was feeling a little bummed that those days are behind me. Let me be clear: I don’t actually want to leave my wonderful husband and go tracking down new prospects. I’m also aware that there’s a big difference between the fictional portrayal of young love and the often very painful real life experience of it. I like literary escapism as much as the next English major, but after all that time spent with young and smitten characters I needed something a little more grown up. Enter this book. Alice is a 29 year old newlywed who’s pregnant with her first child, and then next thing she knows she’s bumped her head and apparently ten years have gone by that she has no memory of. She’s shocked to learn that she is actually now 39, has three kids, and is getting divorced. She struggles to figure out what could have possibly happened in the last ten years to make her marriage so toxic and is perplexed by both the friendships she’s let slip away and the new ones that have grown in their places. The pain of these losses is tempered by the wonder of getting to know her children and also the outside perspective she’s able to apply as she learns to be a mother. It’s a wonderful story that had me literally in tears and in the end had me going on and on to Nick about how happy I am that we share this life together.
I’ve often wondered what it would be like if I could travel back in time to have some girl talk with my younger self. Would she believe me if I described what her life would be like ten years later? I started imagining a slumber party with teenage Charlotte when I was about 25 and it feels a little strange to realize that by this time ten-years-ago me would be in college. I’ve never considered, though, what it would be like if a younger version of me were suddenly plonked down into my current life. I think she’d be rather discombobulated, but pleasantly surprised.
The biggest takeaway from this book for me is that there is something to be said for staying together in a world where all too often things fall apart.
“Early love is exciting and exhilarating. It’s light and bubbly. Anyone can love like that. But…after you’ve seen the worst and the best– well, that sort of love is ineffable. It deserves its own word.” [spoilers redacted]
― Liane Moriarty, What Alice Forgot
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