How do you let go of the events and the people that have defined you? Elissa Janine Hoole’s YA, The Memory Jar, explores that question

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How do you let go of the events and the people that have defined you?  Elissa Janine Hoole’s YA, The Memory Jar, explores that question

I kind of feel like the summary on this book missed the mark.  I was expecting a mystery with a lot of tension and a little danger.  Instead, I found a book about the normal mysteries that accompany teen love.  I think that is a bit of a shame because the real audience for this book is going to be the reader who likes an exploration of all the heartbreaking and hopeful feelings that go with letting go of someone you love, even when it might be more comfortable to cling to them.  

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Goodreads Summary

Since the accident, Taylor’s memory has been fuzzy. But at least she’s awake. Who knows what her boyfriend, Scott, will remember when he comes out of the coma. Will he remember that Taylor was driving the snowmobile when it crashed? Will he remember the engagement ring? Her pregnancy?

Will he remember that she tried to break up with him?

Taylor doesn’t know. And she doesn’t know if she wants him to remember. Plenty of things happened that night and before—secrets wrapped in secrets—that she’d prefer be forgotten.

Facing choices she’d rather ignore, Taylor searches for something more solid than whispers and something bigger than blame to face the future and forgive herself.

My Thoughts

Taylor’s world is rocked by an unexpected pregnancy followed by a tragic accident that might take away some of the choices she already thought she had made.  She spends the majority of the book re-evaluating her decision to break up with her boyfriend who now lies in a coma.  She’s lost control of the life she planned and is now going back through the pieces of the wreckage, trying to decide what she should and can salvage.  I think there is a universality that will appeal to YA readers because this is really about saying goodbye to an era in your life, something that we all do as high school ends and the relationships forged there shift and evolve.  It is also about making choices that are going to best fit the future you really want, which, again, is a pretty universal concept.  I think the characters will also appeal to YA’s because they feel like real teens with emotions that are volatile and impulsive.  The situations and discoveries, which may play with less enormity to adult readers, will probably play as spot on for the YA crowd.

While I think YA readers will enjoy this book, there are a few things that may make it harder to enjoy for some.  It was difficult to follow at times because it was set up with alternating chapters of “Then” and “Now.”  While this did help maintain suspense about the accident, it also created confusion because it was hard to follow the timelines.  The “Then” chapters ranged from the first time Taylor and Scott met to the point of the accident, but not in chronological order, so it was a little disorienting for me as a reader.  It wasn’t an insurmountable obstacle, but it did interrupt the flow of the story enough to annoy me.  Second, I think the end felt rushed to some degree, and one of the more intriguing sub plots got a very quick resolution that I found a little disappointing – I wanted to know more about Kendall, and I’m betting others will as well.

Overall, I think this book is engaging, but it will be more compelling for real young adults than adult readers of YA.  There is some discussion of sex, though nothing graphic, and the debate between abortion and adoption does come into play, so it is probably most appropriate for high school readers.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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About queenbook

When the final bell rings, I stash those messy piles of essays and analysis assignments in a desk drawer and I head home to a pile of good books. My kids and dog eat too many chicken nuggets and the house could be neater, but as long as I get my daily read, I guess we are doing all right. When I was twelve and fifteen and eighteen and twenty, I believed I needed to get out there and do those things I had just been reading about, which ended in disaster, tears, a tattoo that scares me every time I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, and the realization that some of us are meant for action, and some of us are meant to critique the pace of action in a book. I read primarily YA fiction as I have a rather hulking classroom library and a hundred high school readers to engage daily. Nothing makes me happier than coming to school and finding an impatient teenager waiting by my door to turn in a book and get another one just like it. I adore a good zombie, a medieval princess, or girl assassin (I would like them all in one book if you are a writer looking for some inspiration). I add historical mystery to my wish list a year in advance, and you should get out of my way when the next Outlander book comes out. I have an embarrassing fondness for rock star books, but only if they don’t get too trashy and embarrass me. My favorite book of all time is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. My book boyfriends include Gilbert Blythe, Alonzo Wilder, and Jamie Fraser. They are mine and you can’t have them.

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