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My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares

June 13, 2010

or otherwise titled, “Wait, what book am I reading?”

When I picked up My Name is Memory, I had a major déjà vu moment. Here’s the back cover blurb:

Daniel has spent centuries falling in love with the same girl. Life after life, crossing continents and dynasties, he and Sophia have been drawn together – and he remembers it all. Daniel has “the memory,” the ability to recall past lives and recognize those he’s previously known. It is a gift and a curse. For all the times that he and Sophia have been drawn together throughout history, they have also been torn painfully, fatally apart. A love always too short.

But just as Sophia (reborn as “Lucy”) finally begins to awaken to the secret of their shared past, the mysterious force that has always wrenched them apart reappears. Ultimately, they must recognize what stands in the way of their love if they are ever to spend a lifetime together.

Sound familiar?

I admit that the similarities did lessen my excitement about this book, but it was a good read and turned out to be quite different from Fallen. First of all, Daniel is no angel. He’s one of the few people throughout the world – throughout time – who remembers his other lives and can recognize souls from his past. There are plenty of plot summaries out there, so I’m going to tell you a few things I liked:

The idea behind My Name is Memory is intriguing: most humans have multiple – maybe two, maybe hundreds, or thousands – of lives and are reincarnated without any memory of them. Except for a few people, who do remember. This book alternates between Daniel and Lucy’s points of view, and Daniel often describes his former lives living in different centuries, on different continents, at different ages and with varying degrees of social class and power. I found these sections to be some of the most interesting in the book. Daniel is so focused on finding Sophia, a girl he killed in his first life – and his soul mate – that he is disengaged from whatever current life he’s living. One of my favorite parts in the book is when Daniel, a young man in his most recent life, dies, and the newly reincarnated Daniel begins to realize for the first time what an impact he makes on the people who surround him in each of his lives. I also really like the idea that souls cluster – that loved ones and people important to each other are reincarnated close to each other. A husband and wife could come back again as neighbors, for example, or a sister as her older brother’s first-grade teacher.

I wasn’t convinced by the love story at first – Daniel seemed driven to find Sophia more out of a need for atonement than any sort of real love, and when Lucy (present-day Sophia) loves Daniel, it’s only a high school crush on someone she has hardly spoken to. But, as Daniel and Sophie encounter each other in later lives, the relationship becomes much more meaningful and believable.

My Name is Memory is the first part of a trilogy. I’ve heard it compared to The Time Traveler’s Wife, though I hate to make the comparison because I loved The Time Traveler’s Wife and My Name is Memory is not nearly on the same level. I’m not going to make a huge effort to read the next two, but I’d read them if they crossed my path. If you’ve got a TBR list with more than a handful of titles, I’d put this one near the bottom. But if you’re looking for a fun summer read and have some time on your hands, then yes, check this one out.

My Name is Memory is on sale now. FTC: I received a copy from the publisher. I’m classifying it as YA, though I don’t know where the bookstores are putting it. More sophisticated than Fallen, but not quite adult – though adults will like it.

Here are a couple other reviews to check out:

Review: My Name is Memory by Stiletto Storytime

Love that lasts more than a lifetime by Fairfield Books on Station

Review: My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares by The Crowded Leaf

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