Love Water Memory by Jennie Shortridge
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Goodreads: A bittersweet masterpiece filled with longing and hope, Jennie Shortridge’s emotional novel explores the raw, tender complexities of relationships and personal identity. Who is Lucie Walker? Even Lucie herself can’t answer that question after she comes to, confused and up to her knees in the chilly San Francisco Bay. Back home in Seattle, she adjusts to life with amnesia, growing unsettled by the clues she finds to the selfish, carefully guarded person she used to be. Will she ever fall in love with her handsome, kindhearted fiancé, Grady? Can he devote himself to the vulnerable, easygoing Lucie 2.0, who is so unlike her controlling former self? When Lucie learns that Grady has been hiding some very painful secrets that could change the course of their relationship, she musters the courage to search for the shocking, long-repressed childhood memories that will finally set her free.
My thoughts: I am a fan of Lisa Genova. While Genova writes a moving story around neurology that is captivating and heart wrenching and warming, filling the reader with hope yet not false promises, Jennie Shortridge is Genova's psychological counterpart.
The story is about Lucie, who begins the story standing in the San Francisco Bay, on the verge of hypothermia but only up to her knees in water. Problem is that Lucie has all the street and living knowledge of 39 years but her personal slate has been wiped clean. She has muscle memory to drive, play the piano and her daily tasks but remembers absolutely nothing of herself or the man claiming to be her fiance and takes her home to a house she doesn't know.
The beauty of the novel is that there is no purposeful subterfuge. Lucie truly suffers from a condition in the DSM-IV under Disassociative Disorders called the Fugue. Lucie disassociated when her mind could not cope with a traumatic event.
I supposed the book would be like "Samantha Who" and was pleasantly surprised that it was not exactly. Lucie was different but that mystery is unraveled as her history is pieced together. Lucie devotes herself into understanding what happened the night she disappeared and what caused her to react that way.
The story does not feel contrived because the author stays true to both Grady and Lucie. Both suffered losses at tender ages and both dealt with the losses the best they knew how but then became stuck in their M.O. Even though Lucie's condition forces her to examine herself more closely, Grady finds himself doing the same in a more subtle manner.
It would have been easy to write a book with shallow characters who find the error of their ways and suddenly find complete clarity. Instead the author journeys through the process of healing, regressing, taking steps forward, etc. The journey is the story and the relationship is the glue. None of the characters are or were good or bad, wrong or right. They are humans dealing with the unknowns of life and, in particular, while carrying the burdens of their childhoods.
View all my reviews