Daniel tells me that he’s always loved me. That I feel the same. That I always have.
Not just in this life, but in my last life, and all my lives before.
But I don’t remember him.
He says he is always searching for me. Always hoping that one day I will remember. But it is only he that carries the memory of our love.
I know that finding true love is never easy. Perhaps you have fought for it. Perhaps, like Daniel, you have endured the pain of it being unrequited.
But I hope your quest ends happily.
I hope you never have to face the heartbreak that inevitably awaits us.
This is our extraordinary, unforgettable story.
Ann Brashares is probably best known for her young adult ‘Summers of the Sisterhood’ series. ‘ My Name is Memory’ is her second adult novel and quite different to her previous romantic contemporary fiction offerings as it explores the notion of soul, rebirth and the implications not only of living through numerous lifetimes but of being able to remember all of them in detail.
‘My Name is Memory’ is the story of Daniel and Lucy. It is an epic love story told over two millennia. In a very early life Daniel discovered that he had ‘the memory’; his soul moves into a new body when he dies but he remembers everything about his previous lives including a heartbreaking encounter with a young girl a North African village in 541 A.D.
The book begins in 2004 as Lucy prepares for her Senior Ball – the very last event of High School. Lucy loves Daniel from afar and has done so throughout high school. Little does she know that her crush is the result of a relationship that spans centuries. A brief encounter with Daniel at the ball leaves Lucy scared and confused; scared by the intensity of feeling and her connection to Daniel, who is essentially a stranger in her eyes and confused by Daniel’s insistence on calling her Sophia and that they have met before.
The story progresses in alternating chapters with Daniel recounting his lives and encounters with Lucy as Lucy’s life moves forward to college and graduate school. ‘My Name is Memory’ is very much Daniel’s story; the chapters relating to his past are narrated in the first person and I enjoyed both the historical element and the strong male voice that Brashares has created.
Lucy’s journey of self discovery through the course of the book is also well written and enjoyable as she tries to make sense of her encounter with Daniel. I liked that fact that her character was not only sceptical but went out of her way to avoid and then find other explanations for the link between her and Daniel. My only criticism being that when she does finally accept the truth, I found her lack of trust in her own instincts and her reactions to another character whose soul has been interlinked with her own almost as long as Daniel’s, disappointing and totally unbelievable in places.
Brashares has certainly thought the implications of living many lives through and at times the book and Daniel’s musings are very philosophical, giving the reader plenty to think about. Although I liked the complex and well developed mythology, I found the book quite slow to start as the characters are introduced and Daniel begins to tell of his early lives. Having said that, as the plot progressed, I really appreciated the detailed build up of the story and the layers to both Daniel and Lucy’s characters and the depth of background to their stories so I would urge readers to stick with it.
For me, the story really got going when Daniel meets Constance in 1918. This is when their romance takes off and the link between Constance and Lucy had me fascinated. I found the last third of the book an absolutely gripping read and am very much hoping that Ann Brashares produces a sequel as the ending was left far too open for my liking!
Although written for an adult audience, ‘My Name is Memory’ will definitely appeal to young adult readers as well. The paperback release last week saw a re-branding from the hardback cover shown on the left to the much ‘darker’ cover shown on the right above. I couldn’t resist doing a cover comparison for this book as the two covers are so different. The new cover should certainly attract the attention of paranormal romance fans but I actually think this is a very heartwarming and romantic book which appeals to my belief in soul mates and I’m not sure the dark cover goes with the story. Personally I prefer the hardback cover but I’d love to know what everyone else thinks.
You can find out more about Ann Brashares and her books at: http://annbrashares.com/
A version of this review also appears at: www.libripopulus.co.uk