105 Ways to Give a Book

High School Memories and Memoirs

I’m feeling all discombobulated today, and I blame it all on this dream I had last night. I was my age, late thirties, but I was marrying someone from my high school. In the dream, a friend of mine had recently backed out of the wedding, so I apparently decided that I would marry the guy instead. He and I seemed to be okay with the fact that we weren’t in love, or even that close, but we were getting married anyway. It ended when the alarm went off in the middle of me singing my vows in the form of “Somewhere” from West Side Story.

The cool/odd thing was that groom was just some guy I knew in high school. He wasn’t an old boyfriend that you’d suspect I’d remember. He wasn’t even someone I hung out with. He was a guy in my chorus group that I liked. Apparently, that was enough for my subconscious to reproduce him in my dream. Even stranger to me was that the hall was filled with people from high school that I was remembering — bits of their personalities, their relationships, and definitely their faces. And other then my high school reunion a year ago, I haven’t thought of these people for years.

Memoirs of a Teenage AmnesiacIf I blame being out of sorts on the dream, then I lay the blame for the dream squarely on the shoulders of the book Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, by Gabrielle Zevin. It’s an interesting book about a girl who loses four years of memories — and an important four years at that — when she hits her head. She has to piece some parts of her life back together and discover who she really is again, making her question her choice of friends, boyfriend, and activities. While amnesia can have that soap-opera-plot feel to it, I found it easy to go along with in the book. I think it works particularly in a teen book, because often those are the years of reinventing yourself, sometimes repeatedly, but without the benefit or hindrance of forgetting who you once were. The characters and relationships were realistic and kept me engaged in the story. A well-written and very enjoyable book.

But I think that my dream came from this passage, my favorite part of the book, namely because it’s so true:
“I don’t see him much,” I said to Dad finally.

“It happens, baby,” Dad nodded and patted me on the hand, and then he read my mind. “You forget all of it anyway. First, you forget everything you learned — the dates of the Hay-Herran Treaty and the Pythagorean theorem. You especially forget everything you didn’t really learn, but just memorized the night before. You forget the names of all but one or two of your teachers, and eventually you’ll forget those, too. You forget your junior year class schedule and where you used to sit and your best friend’s home phone number and the lyrics to that song you must have played a million times. For me, it was something by Simon & Garfunkel. Who knows what it will be for you? And eventually, but slowly, oh so slowly, you forget your humiliations — even the ones that seemed indelible just fade away. You forget who was cool and who was not, who was pretty, smart, athletic, and not. Who went to a good college. Who threw the best parties. Who could get you pot. You forget all of them. Even the ones you said you loved, and even the ones you actually did. They’re the last to go. And then once you’ve forgotten enough, you love someone else.”
I loved that part, because it tells teens that all of the drama of high school fades. I know myself that it seemed like all of it was incredibly important, so much so that it could be overwhelming. But maybe an even better message for me now is that these memories are always a part of you, even if only in your dreams.

10 comments:

Tricia said...

I love this excerpt. The author really nailed it. I guess I have another book to add to the TBR pile.

Thanks for the great review.

TadMack said...

Oh, OH I must now read this book. Just that paragraph alone twinges my heart.

I love that the guy you dreamed of was in choir with you. I remember -- still -- the people in my choir, and this bass named Bill who I occasionally dream about... I find that if it has something to do with music, it sticks in my subconscious for a much longer time.

Kelly Fineman said...

Damn. That made me cry.

Must.get.book.

Jill said...

Wow...excellent post. Sounds like a great book, too. I've been having weird dreams lately of people in my past who I haven't thought about in years. In one of them, no one would come near me because they said I smelled bad. I was really paranoid and chewed gum like it was no one's business for two weeks. Then I read in my coworker's dream book that dreaming about odors meant I was experiencing anxiety. Well yeah...now I'm experiencing anxiety about smelling bad.

MotherReader said...

I forgot to put in my review, that one of the things I specifically liked about the characters were how many of them were flawed, but it was never black-and-white. Her boyfriend, Ace, seems like kind of a dunce, but he does stand by her after the accident. The mother has done some bad things, but she's still trying to reach out to her daughter. I love it when the range of people's humanity is expressed - especially in Young Adult where it is too easy to rely on high school stereotypes.

Jennie said...

Oh man, that's so true.

I look back at some many things that I *knew* were life-or-death for me back then, and can barely remember the details.

It's something to remember for my adult life, too, especially as I slog through grad school. Will I still freak out about the worst case scenario 5 years from now? No? Then breathe and move on

MLight said...

What a wonderful quote! I'll definitely read that.

Kelly said...

Wow! Looks like a good one, MR. Thanks for your review. (Dreams like yours freak me out. I don't like them. They're illogical!)

Little Willow said...

I love this book in so many ways, for so many things.

I was in choir!

I was in West Side Story!

Anonymous said...

Dreams are not about people and they are not about what you already know. Some aspect of this guy is an aspect of you, and finding out what he represents of your unconscious would be the next task -- should you choose to accept it. After a couple of decades I can safely say that very little of the humiliation or the loves are forgotten. You survive, though, making joy the knife in your heart that defeats the enemy.