Name 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
“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?