Book Report: Gabrielle Zevin ‘Forgotten Why I Love You’
Forgotten Why I Love You is one of the young adult novels by American writer Gabrielle Zevin. The book is about Naomi, who has forgotten the last four years of her life due to a fall. She doesn’t remember that her parents divorced, doesn’t recognize her best friend Will and wonders who the boy is who took her to hospital. Naomi tries to find out who she is with the stories she hears from the people around her and tries to pick up her life as best she can.
- Main characters
- Symbols and motifs
- Structure and perspective / way of telling
- Time and place
- Original title: Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac
- Dutch title: Forgetting why I love you
- Author: Gabrielle Zevin
- First edition English: 2017
- First edition Dutch: 2011
- Translation: Ellis Post Of course
- Number of pages: 201
- ISBN ebook: 978 90 499 2544 4
Sixteen-year-old Naomi had fallen down a staircase at school due to a stupid bet with her boyfriend Will and lost her memory. James, a boy from the school, had taken her to the hospital. She’s never met him before, but Naomi likes him quite a bit.
When only her father comes by, Naomi assumes her mother is in New York for a photography assignment or something. But then she learns that her parents are divorced. She discovers that she has forgotten everything since she was twelve. Her mother has been pairing up with a man who was her childhood sweetheart for some time and they have a daughter, Chloe. Naomi turns out to no longer have a good relationship with her mother or with her stepsister.
When she receives a visit from a boy, she assumes that it is her boyfriend Ace, who her father talked about. But the boy introduces herself as Will, her best friend and fellow editor of the school newspaper. Only in the evening does she meet her boyfriend, who is not her type at all. Naomi doesn’t understand why she is paired up with Ace. But Will is convinced she did this on purpose, since a boyfriend like Ace, who is very popular, certainly can’t hurt at their school to avoid getting into trouble. From Ace’s stories, Naomi soon discovers that their relationship consisted mainly of parties and tennis, so it doesn’t take long until she starts to become interested in the mysterious James, who had taken her to hospital. And in the end she breaks up with Ace too.
Naomi becomes even more confused when she meets Rose Rivera. She is her father’s girlfriend whom he will soon marry. Her father admits that Naomi was reluctant to remarry and therefore not having a good relationship with Rosa. But he hopes this will change.
Through Alice Leeds, the director of the school theater, Naomi gets the chance to act. At first she thinks it’s not for her, but eventually she gives in and participates. She realizes that this means she has less time for the school newspaper and the yearbook. When Naomi informs Will, he is enthusiastic and relieved to learn that she wants to help with the yearbook.
Not much later she starts a relationship with James, despite rumors about him, which say that he used to be an addict and that he was expelled from school. She can’t help but tell him the wild stories about him and he admits it’s all true and that he also attempted suicide twice. It started when his older brother died of lung cancer. He had spent six months in an asylum after relying on pills to survive the days.
While Naomi is happy with James, her friendship with Will has cooled a lot. But she doesn’t have time to worry about that. She decides to quit the yearbook, which means the end of their friendship for Will. He blames her for not being the Naomi he knows and has become a real bitch.
A few days later, Naomi suddenly regains her memory. But she decides not to tell anyone for now. She remembers her fall and the night before when she and Will kissed. James didn’t know them before her fall and she fears her relationship with him will end when he learns she can remember everything. Because their common point is a past they want to forget or be forgotten.
But James has doubts about their relationship anyway and realizes that their relationship cannot last because he is unstable and not a good friend, so he wants Naomi to distance himself. He also decides to return to the mental health facility where he was previously admitted.
I will be
When Will and Naomi talk again, he admits that he was disappointed that Naomi hadn’t said anything about their kiss and not much later she had lost her memory. After her split with Ace, he hadn’t gotten a chance as she was directly in a relationship with James and now he’s in a relationship with Winnie himself and is no longer in love with Naomi.
Naomi also realizes she and James have changed, so she doesn’t mind their relationship ending. She is busy enough with the school assignments and with the preparations for her father’s wedding. But she notices that she is also calmer and much happier. She succeeds in reconnecting with her mother and building one with her stepsister, her stepmother and her children. And then there is Will, who is alone again and who she knows will always be there.
She was an orphan in Russia until she was adopted by her parents in New York.
He is Naomi’s best friend. He is loyal, intelligent, passionate, thoughtful and can motivate others. He is a hard worker and has been taking care of his mother since his father died.
He’s handsome and a little too muscular for Naomi. He is very sporty and especially good at tennis.
His brother has died. He loves movies and works as an audiovisual expert at a community center. He is moody, stubborn and inscrutable.
Symbols and motifs
Naomi soon discovers the practical drawbacks of her amnesia. For example, she has completely forgotten how to drive the car while she has already had her driving license for several months.
Naomi doesn’t care that James is unstable. She loves him and that’s the most important thing to her.
Structure and perspective / way of telling
The book is dedicated to the editor of the author. It consists of 201 pages, divided over a prologue, 3 volumes entitled ‘I was,’ I am ‘and’ I will be ‘and 15 chapters. The story represents Naomi’s point of view, which is written in the I person.
Let go of your past and make the most of your future.
Time and place
The story takes place in the present and in the past via flashbacks in Tanytown.
This book is suitable for a younger audience and therefore fits perfectly into the Young Adult category. The subject of the book is the relationships Naomi has with her family and the three boys in her life: Will, Ace and James. In the first part Naomi discovers who she is through what she hears from others, in the second part she makes decisions herself that she thinks are important and in the last part she focuses on her future and the happiness around her. It is a book that shows that you can let go of the past and still take control of your life, without being influenced by the past. The characters are not always nicely worked out, for example James is an unstable person, but he is quite flat and his lability does not really come out. Those who love novels should definitely give this book a chance.