What Alice ForgotWhat Alice Forgot is a great novel for audio, due in large part to the wonderful narrator, Caroline Lee.

Lee’s lilting, open Australian accent is critical to understanding  Alice’s character. The 1998 Alice is wonderfully innocent, quirky and enthusiastically in love with her husband.

The 2008 amnesiac Alice, who is living ten years in the past, is, in her own mind, still that person. She gradually begins to put together the puzzle of her new identity. To the listener, it’s almost like a mystery. You wonder who the new Alice is and how she got that way. Like Alice,  you’re also relying on what people are telling Alice, and no more. Both Alice and the reader/listener are frustrated when it seems other people are withholding information.

Liane Moriarty’s breezy style keeps the story light, while delving into the darker sides of Alice and her family’s journey over the last decade. Life has gone on; there have been births, deaths and marriages. Alice confesses to her sister that she has no idea how to feed and take care of her children, or any children for that matter. She speculates that a diet of sausages would probably be popular.

Elizabeth, her older sister, is a great foil; she had always been Alice’s protector and support which allowed Alice to be the funny, spacey one. One of the mysteries is why they had grown apart. The many well-drawn characters make this rather long audiobook absorbing to the end.

the-rookAs soon as I saw this book described as “The Bourne Identity meets The X-Men”, I knew I had to read it.  In The Rook by Daniel O’Malley, Myfanwy (rhymes with Tiffany) Thomas wakes up on a rainy street in London, having clearly been beaten to a pulp.  The bigger problem?  She has no idea who she is.  Luckily her past self was prepared for this to happen, because in her jacket pocket Myfanwy finds a letter that directs her to a bank, where she will have two choices: safe deposit box #1 contains lots of money and everything she needs for a new identity, and safe deposit box #2 contains information about who she is and what happened to her.  After being attacked for a second time, Myfanwy opts to learn the secrets of safe deposit box #2: she is part of a secret government organization called The Chequy, comprised of British citizens with supernatural abilities, working together to protect the country from its more unusual threats.  Moreover, past-Myfanwy is certain that a fellow member of The Chequy is the one who ordered the attack on her.  With nothing but a big stack of letters from her past self, Myfanwy must protect the country from imminent danger all while trying to protect herself from a threat close to home.

This was a really fun concept for a book, and I liked the main character a lot.  She’s really snarky and funny, particularly when she’s re-learning about her powers or trying to cover up the fact that she’s lost her memory (and doing a poor job at it).  However, I almost didn’t finish this book because it’s a LOT longer than it needs to be.  Much of the first half moves pretty slowly with at least one subplot that could have easily been disposed of.  Luckily things picked up at the halfway point, and I couldn’t help but tear through it all the way to the exciting end.

submitted by Sarah W

What would it be like to feel no pain? Not just the absence of paper cuts and bumped knees, but the absence of guilt or shame? Would it be a blessing or a curse?

Sean Ferrell explores the possibilities in his book, appropriately titled, Numb. His main character, an amnesiac, is found wandering around by a traveling circus. When asked who he is, he replies, “I’m…numb.” The name sticks, especially after he unknowingly nails his hand to a wood structure and can’t pull free.

His condition is taken for talent and without conscious effort or desire, Numb becomes the star act in the circus and then in New York, where he – or rather his numbness – acquires an agent, a fan following, a lot of people who want to make him their personal cash cow…and a girlfriend who would be his salvation – if he can just find the courage to feel

The New York Times says Numb is a statement about media bombardment, fame in the Internet Age, and a culture in which instant gratification takes far too long.

Maybe. But I also say it’s a fascinating read.