Book Review – The Memory Box by Eva Lesko Natiello

The memory box

This book starts off with such promise, excitement and suspense, but then quickly deteriorates into the most ridiculous, improbable story I’ve read in a long time. If you can suspend belief for the duration of this book, then you’ll be ok; if not, then I suggest you don’t start it in the first place!

Caroline is a seemingly average suburban housewife, mother of two, and wannabe writer. Apparently the hobby of the moment amongst her fellow school moms is Googling yourself, which Caroline does, with minimal results. But then for some odd reason, she decides to Google herself under her maiden name, and discovers a whole life that she has conveniently forgotten all about!

And all of a sudden, out of the blue, she finds herself in a downward spiral of such epic proportions you’d think someone would notice and intervene. But strangely, even though there is something slightly unnerving about Caroline’s sudden jittery behaviour, nobody really seems to pay that much attention to it. Her husband, children and friends all seem to go along with her unexplained ‘accidents’ (falling down and visibly injuring herself), and her chronic tiredness and constant need to sleep!

You’d think with all the bizarre discoveries Caroline has made (her sister, who she adored, has been dead for years, something she has no recollection of!), she would confide in someone close to her, like her husband maybe? Why wouldn’t she want the reassurance of someone close to her, who would be able to support and comfort her? This is never explained, and for some reason, Caroline does quite the opposite, not wanting to talk to anyone about her discoveries.

Instead she tries to stumble around (literally) on her own, uncovering things about her past that she claims she didn’t know. She seeks out Dr Sullivan, a psychiatrist who treated her and her family in this shadowy life she’s forgotten. She hears evidence of a vacuous, self-absorbed mother, who clearly had doubts about Caroline’s relationship with reality from when she was a child. But just as those in her present life are currently doing, back then her mother also did nothing about dealing with the issues that presented themselves.

Yes, there’s a big twist at the end which you’re expecting all along. You don’t exactly know how it’s all going to work out but you know that twist is coming, and this is pretty much all that kept me reading until the end. Even then, it still didn’t sit quite right for me. I know that fiction is meant to be just that, but you really need to stretch all the bounds of reality for this one.

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