Posted in Book review, Reading Challenge

Book Review: What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

During summer I read Liane Moriarty’s newest book, Nine Perfect Strangers, and wasn’t that impressed about it as I wrote in a previous post. And now I’ve read What Alice Forgot from the same author, and the reading experience was better.

But maybe every life looked wonderful if all you saw was the photo albums.

Finnish edition of What Alice Forgot

To be honest I did not expect to read anything from Liane Moriarty for a while, or perhaps ever, because I was so underwhelmed by the previous book. But then a book club I joined recently picked What Alice Forgot as the next book, so I rushed to buy it and read it before the meeting.

I didn’t have high expectations for this book but I’m glad I gave Liane Moriarty another chance because What Alice Forgot turned out to be an entertaining novel. I’m still not sure what the genre would be for this book. Something between contemporary fiction and chick lit and romance? But anyways, the story was intriguing enough and it was a light, quick read.

(Some spoilers about the book)

So the book is about Alice who one day falls at the gym, hits her head and loses her memory of the last 10 years. She doesn’t remember her kids or that she is in the middle of a messy divorce and who is the Gina person everyone keeps mentioning? Little by little things start to make sense and things become more clear (or mote confusing) and in the end there is a conclusion to the memory loss and also decisions about how to move on after all that had happened.

After the tv show Big Little Lies and reading Nine Perfect Strangers, I was expecting for a long time that there is a murder or some other element of suspense in the book. Alice was set up very well as an unreliable story teller, and the story shifts between fake and real memories and many (wrong) assumptions. I really was waiting for a revelation of Gina being (accidentally) murdered by Alice or someone close to her. And it’s not fair to the book that I was disappointed when there wasn’t a murder or something else equally bad as a plot twist. It was just that life had happened during the 10 years that Alice lost, and perhaps that’s the greatest message of this book. Smaller and bigger tragedies happen. Friendships and relationships come and go. The world around us changes, and we change as well. And it’s ok, it happens to everyone, and we can’t always control what’s going to happen. The only thing that we can definitely affect is how we react and to the different life situations. How do we cope, what do we learn?

At first I didn’t like the “happy” ending, thinking it was too predictable. But then I changed my mind because the book catches up with Alice in the end and focuses briefly on how she changed after she got her memory back. Accepting a change in your personality can be challenging and I liked that we were shown Alice accepting a new version of her after everything she had gone through.

What Alice Forgot fills this spot in the Reading Challenge:
16. A story that shifts between reality and unreality

The book is a light read with some serious themes of life and how to deal with change. Can recommend.


I love books, games and the coziness of our house (currently it's the kingdom of me and my husband). My work in a game studio as a Senior HR Specialist keeps me busy and social, but I am an introvert in my core. Navigating life between my very social work and my introvert, less social personality can be tricky and it goes hand in hand with my interest in overall personal well-being.

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