Book Review | Forget Me Not

Ah, amnesia as a plot device. (It’s really good here, though.)

In Forget Me Not by Alyson Derrick, Nora and Stevie have been secretly dating for several years, and finally are ready to live their lives authentically. Once they graduate, they’re going to leave their small, ultra-conservative Midwest town to move to California and start a life together. Stevie, who has distanced herself from her old friends and her parents in order to keep her love for Nora a secret, is eager for this new life to start. But an accident in the woods leads to Stevie getting a head injury—and losing all her memories of the last few years. So Stevie, now only remembering being fifteen, is shocked to discover that she is an adult now, and wonders what on earth has happened to her lately for her life to look so different. And Nora is left alone with her memories of their secret relationship, and wonders if there is any hope for them.

Don’t read this if you’re not in the mood for angst. Because there is definitely angst here. Stevie spends much of the book grappling with the ways her life has apparently changed over the years, and there is a lot of self-reflection and searching for identity. It’s messy and difficult, and this book doesn’t shy away from that. But it’s also empowering and hopeful.

I liked the way Stevie’s character developed over time, shifting and trying to fit back into her fifteen-year-old self, even though Nora and the readers know what she was like before the accident. There are also some really great scenes that tackle how difficult living in small towns in America can be for people of color. Stevie bonds with Ryan, another Asian character, over this, and the way their relationship plays out is fantastic. Ryan is such a kind and decent person, and I really liked him.

The other themes of growing apart from one’s family, especially parents, are also handled very well. This book deals a lot with the complexities of learning one’s identity as a queer person while being raised by politically conservative parents, and it’s excellent. I especially liked Stevie’s relationship with her mother, because you can really see the love between them, even when things aren’t perfect. It’s heartbreaking to see exactly why Stevie does not feel safe to live with her parents after coming to terms with her queer identity, which is unfortunately a reality for many queer people.

On that note, Nora’s relationship with her mother is more troubling. There is actual verbal and physical abuse here, and it’s painfully evident why Nora is so desperate to leave this town. There is also a scene where we actually see some of this abuse happen, though Nora is quickly helped to get to safety. But still, if you would rather not engage with that content, I wanted to mention it, because it’s hard to read.

However, there is a lot of hope in this story, even with all the complex and painful subjects. Stevie’s and Nora’s bond is so touching and deep, and is a great solid foundation for this story. Even as Stevie frantically seeks her old self out, her connection to Nora helps her build a new life, one that neither version of Stevie (fifteen-years-old or pre-accident-eighteen) would have necessarily dared to try for. And the way the book ends is perhaps a little too convenient, but I think that’s okay. Because maybe sometimes things do work out okay.

(Side note, though, I wish there had been an epilogue written by Nora, set a few months later or something. We had several scenes from her point-of-view, and I feel like that would have been a wonderful way to close out the story. Oh, well. Minor thing, really.)

In the end, Forget Me Not is a melancholy yet optimistic journey of reflection, identity, and growth. It grapples with tough issues like homophobia, racism, and abuse, but also has room for plenty of love, kindness, and hope. The pacing is a little slow at times, and some of the drama is very teenager-y, but it was still a good read for me. The audiobook narrator, Natalie Naudus, did a fantastic job. And overall, I think this is a lovely, poignant book.

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