Review: My Name Is Memory

memoryName of Book: My Name Is Memory
By: Anne Brashares
Publisher: Riverhead Books (Penguin)
Copyright Date: 2010
Number of Pages: 324
Format: Young Adult
Reason for Reading: spontaneous library pick
                               Rating: A-

“I have lived more than a thousand years. I have died countless times. I forget precisely how many times. My memory is an extraordinary thing, but it is not perfect. I am human.”

So begins the story of Daniel. He is a rare soul who has the Memory.  He can remember each of his lives. His life is one long cycle of births and deaths. His first life sets the course for the rest of his long existence. It, of course, concerns a woman. A woman he loves and searches for in each life.  The story weaves in and out of the present and the past. We get little glimpses of key events in Daniel’s many lives.  We bear witness to Daniel’s frustrating struggle to find Sophia and get her to remember.

I found this story to be completely engaging and beautifully written.  The character of Ben, another rare soul with the Memory, reminded me of the character of God from the television show Joan of Arcadia. God always appeared to Joan in different forms-a cute little kindergartener to a grumpy old woman. Ben’s character had the same changeability, innocence, mystery, and innate wisdom.  Daniel on the other hand is intent on staying the same. As soon as he remembers he clings to his initial identity.  He goes through the motions of childhood, but he knows he is different and doesn’t do much to even try to fit in. He always insists on being called Daniel-the first name he ever had-and focuses all of his energies on finding Sophia.

What I liked best: I enjoyed the flashbacks. I really enjoyed the way they were weaved into the story. The writing felt haunting and melancholy.  I was invested in Daniel’s journey and felt frustrated at times with Lucy/Sophia.  I worried that they would be forever thwarted.

What I liked least: At times the characters seemed a little flat. The ending disappointed me.

I liked the way this book explored reincarnation, the notion of remembering each of your lives. If you could remember, how would you navigate your existence?  Would you be single-minded in your focus? Would you grow weary of the cycle? Or would you enjoy each new life as a fresh leaf, full of wonder and joy? Would you be a Daniel or a Ben?

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This entry was posted in Fiction, Posts by Jehara, YA and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Review: My Name Is Memory

  1. izzybella says:

    This sounds like a really interesting read, though I can’t imagine why the main character continues to be the same person over and over again. If I could live my life over again never losing any of the knowledge I’ve already gained, I think I would have so much fun exploring different things to add to what I’ve already learned in other lifetimes. It just sounds like he stays the same all the way through it. Where’s the growth in that? I think I’m a Ben.

  2. jehara says:

    I thought you while I was reading this. Mainly because I know how much you enjoy The Sisterhood books. 🙂

  3. Bumbles says:

    I think the premise of Daniel just going through the motions to get to adulthood so he can find his love a bit jarring. What about his parents each time? Here they have this child that (I assume) they love, and instead he just yadda yadda’s them to death so he can run off and find Sophia. And poor Sophia – she must feel like she’s constantly got a stalker if she can’t remember Daniel ;0) Cool premise for a book – of any genre. What if you COULD remember it all?

    • jehara says:

      A lot of his lives he had it really rough and really didn’t have parents. The one family he ended up with that was very loving, he did take comfort in them. However, he was still a little too single-minded in his focus on Sophia and couldn’t fully be present in the family.

  4. Janet says:

    Dave and I joke about this premise…that he’s lived multiple lives and each time is trying to find me…and in some lives, a physic told him, I was his sister!

  5. Margot says:

    Oh, I hope I’d be a Ben. To just keep repeating the same thing over and over is depressing whether you do that in one life or multiple lives. I always thought the value of having more than one life would be to learn something new each time and then move to a higher plane – whatever that would be.

    I’m sorry the story ended poorly. Don’t you hate it when that happens? Sometimes I want to just sit down and rewrite a book the way I want it to go. (But then I hear the author telling me to go ahead, write my own book, but do it with my own characters.)

    • jehara says:

      He doesn’t necessarily repeat the same thing over and over. He lives through many centuries and sees many things and becomes many things. He did learn things from his various lives but he mainly applied them to his search for Sophia. The way he approached his various lives reminded me of someone taking comfort in the familiar. He knows who he is as Daniel. It’s less scary that way. One thing that I thought was pretty cool was how he could build on his knowledge from each life. In his current life he skipped medical school and went straight to being a doctor (or a nurse, I forget) because he had been in the medical field in so many lifetimes. Having many lives to learn and perfect skills would be pretty cool. Kinda reminds me of vampire characters actually.

  6. I’m with Margot–I hope I’d be a Ben. I don’t want to stay the same–for me, the whole purpose of life, and whatever comes afterward, is to learn and to grow. I’m gloriously imperfect now, and more knowledge and growth could only make me even more the me I was intended to be from the moment I was created.

    • jehara says:

      I think I’d like to be a mix. I love the way the Ben character came across, but I’d think it would be cool to expand upon skills I’ve already learned previously.

  7. Staci says:

    This one sounds great and I’ve got it on my list of TBR sometime in the future. Excellent review!

  8. Heather says:

    Great review and discussion! I don’t know if I’d like this one but it does sound interesting!

  9. Kathleen says:

    Sounds like an intriguing premise. I’m adding it to my list.

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