Forgetting (for real) and (maybe) forgiving in Moriarty’s What Alice Forgot

“Each memory, good and bad, was another invisible thread that bound them together…It was as simple and complicated as that. Love after children, after you’ve hurt each other and forgiven each other, bored each other and surprised each other, after you’ve seen the worst and the best…-well, that sort of love is ineffable. It deserves its own word.”


What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
Genre: Fiction
Published by
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Re-readability: Not sure I’ll come back to this one but it was definitely worth the read.

Reviewed by Indiana
Spoiler-free review

Have you ever wondered what life would be like if you could just forget the past few years?

The good and the bad?

Well, that’s exactly what happens to Alice when she falls off her bike in a spin class. When she wakes up she can’t remember why she’s in the gym in the first place (“I hate working out,”) or why her husband sounds so angry when she calls and asks him to come to the hospital (had they had a fight or something? She wonders).

Things only get weirder from there as she meets her “family” that she’s expected to love and take care of and is told that she’s quite the PTA mom (oh, and then it only gets worse when she finds out who she’s dating).

Although the story started a bit slow and at times felt too perfect, What Alice Forgot turned out to be a fun story with quite a few subtle life lessons sprinkled throughout.

The way that Alice finds out who she has become is pretty interesting because it’s mostly through snippets of conversation with people in her life (some who she no longer knows that she knows . . . if that makes sense). The slow discovery was heartbreaking in a way because she finds out who she’s drifted away from and how much she’s changed into a fitness-loving, in shape, busybody, who is seeped through with bitterness.

In some ways the book reads like a cautionary tale, as Alice has to unweave her new identity. Alice hasn’t been completely innocent in the making of her own bed, yet terrible things have happened to her too. But she’s not always patient or kind or really “herself” in her new identity.

It’s like Moriarty (or Alice) is trying to tell us to hold on to who you are, no matter who you are with and what is going on in your life.

Like many other works by Moriarty, What Alice Forgot is written from several perspectives. The storylines all intersect and build off of one another and make for faster reading. It would be a great book to travel with for that reason alone.

Despite the book’s seriousness —  infertility plays a role, as well as death and probably taxes too —  there’s a sense of lightheartedness the whole way through and there are quite a few comedic moments mixed in.

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