My Name is Memory – Ann Brashares

Synopsis

From the New York Times-bestselling author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and The Last Summer (of You and Me) comes an imaginative, inspired, magical book-a love story that lasts more than a lifetime. 

Daniel has spent centuries falling in love with the same girl. Life after life, crossing continents and dynasties, he and Sophia (despite her changing name and form) have been drawn together-and he remembers it all. Daniel has “the memory”, the ability to recall past lives and recognize souls of those he’s previously known. It is a gift and a curse. For all the times that he and Sophia have been drawn together throughout history, they have also been torn painfully, fatally, apart. A love always too short.

Interwoven through Sophia and Daniel’s unfolding present day relationship are glimpses of their expansive history together. From 552 Asia Minor to 1918 England and 1972 Virginia, the two souls share a long and sometimes torturous path of seeking each other time and time again. But just when young Sophia (now “Lucy” in the present) finally begins to awaken to the secret of their shared past, to understand the true reason for the strength of their attraction, the mysterious force that has always torn them apart reappears. Ultimately, they must come to understand what stands in the way of their love if they are ever to spend a lifetime together.

A magical, suspenseful, heartbreaking story of true love, My Name is Memory proves the power and endurance of a union that was meant to be.

Review

Imagine a Romeo-and-Juliet kind of love, except without any weak will. Does true love conquer all?

As I read this book, I felt like I was climbing a mountain the whole time. When would they get together? When would there finally be a pay-off to the centuries of yearning and determination? All the near-misses felt tragic. Wrong circumstances, wrong time, wrong actions. Nothing ever seemed to work out for these two, except their undeniable connection. The thing is, I’m not sure that was enough. The end felt underwhelming. It was open-ended for sure, almost demanding a sequel (and I would demand one, if I cared more for the book). Regardless, this book should have had a definitive ending rather than this frustrating moment in limbo. I felt left hanging, without any questions answered or anything resolved. This book ended in limbo, and if Lucy and Daniel’s lives ended like this, it would be absolutely tragic — and no different from any of their former incarnations.

The Constance parts were my favourite. Perhaps Daniel first met Sophia, but Constance was the one whose soul he knew. That was true love. I wish we knew more about Joachim and what he did.

There were some really intriguing themes and ideas in this book. Memory, reincarnation, time. Fate versus choice. Dying with fulfillment versus defeat. Dreams, hopes, fears. The soul versus the body. This was the most redeeming aspect of My Name is Memory.

If personalities really transfer over, I don’t think Lucy was all that accurate. She was opinionated and strong-willed. Perhaps feminist movements had spurred that confidence, but I’m not even sure that freedom could’ve caused such a difference between her and Sophia or Constance, even.

And Daniel—for a long time, he didn’t seem to value life. He recognized this himself, after receiving retribution for tossing away the good life he was given. I wish he encountered Molly and the rest of his former family again. Imagine if he wound up as friends with his youngest brother! That would’ve been joyous. I would’ve been glad to see happiness come from something other than Lucy and Daniel’s moment of coming together. That moment was riddled with danger and anguish, which was so frustrating after all that build up.

This book is problematic because it focuses too much on love. The characters torture themselves about it. They throw away their lives for it. And I can’t really sympathize with people who suffer because of all-consuming infatuation. The whole point of this book is to show that love is worth it—worth the wait, worth the risk, worth the actions to preserve it—, but I left feeling unconvinced.

Related Reading

  • The History of Love – Nicole Krauss
  • One Day – David Nicholls
  • Every Day – David Levithan
  • The Here and Now – Ann Brashares
  • Just One Day/Just One Year – Gayle Forman
  • If I Stay – Gayle Forman
  • Reincarnation – Suzanne Weyn

Rating: 3/5

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