Have you ever Googled your own name? Come on, confess, of course you have. What if you found out things that you don’t remember? Things that will completely change your life and how you view the people in it? This is precisely what happened to Caroline Thompson in the compelling contemporary thriller, “The memory box“.“You can never tell just one lie”
Caroline, a former journalist, is now a busy, suburban, stay-at-home, mother. She is obsessed with being a good mother/homemaker and she is a bit anal about her daily schedule. She has two daughters, Lilly and Tess, and is happily married to Andy. She is caught up in the social mire of suburbia, and is wary of the gossip-mongers amongst the ‘mothers’. The ringleader begins to Google her acquaintances in order to find out some ‘dirt’. When Caroline Googles herself, she finds only three innocuous entries. Then, when she Googles herself under her maiden name, she finds information that rocks her world.
“Where do memories go when you lose them?”
Her memories are now filled with gaping black holes. She cannot trust her own version of past events. She goes back to the psychologist she once visited before her move to suburbia. From him she discovers facts that can’t be true – they just don’t seem possible. She hears her mother’s voice on a tape recording saying, “Caroline had a very active imagination. She could convince herself of anything.”
Desperately trying to ferret out the secrets contained in her own repressed memories, Caroline becomes more and more unstable. She misses important appointments, forgets obligations, and is incessantly internalizing all the new information she has discovered about herself.
It’s one thing to ‘weird out‘ your friends but quite another when you even ‘weird out‘ yourself.
This book made me tired when I was reading it. Not that I was bored… far from it! I was almost physically tired as I empathized with the protagonists palpable panic, distress, and increasingly stress-filled and chaotic personal life. It was a disturbing read, yet, like the bystander who cannot help but gaze at a train wreck, I kept compulsively turning pages…
“The memory box” was a fast-paced and addictive domestic thriller. I cannot honestly say I liked the protagonist/narrator, though she was one of the new breed of unreliable narrators, whom I usually love. Caroline was not someone I would ever wish to know, or could ever become friendly with.
I loved the analogies the author used in her writing. “The secrets you wish you never knew become a burden to lug. A bowling ball without holes.”
The family’s Westie terrier named Smarty Pants added some needed diversion from the intensity of the plot.
The ending was a real twist. It was uncomfortable to read, yet somehow, as Caroline was so psychotic, strangely apt.
“The memory box” is published by Fine Line Publishing and is available in Kindle format from Amazon.com for only $4.99 in the U.S. and $5.99 in Canada from Amazon.ca. It is also available in paperback or on audio book.
I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to Eva Lesko Natiello for providing me with a digital copy of her debut novel.
She has written essays that have been published in The Huffington Post, New Jersey Monthly, The Mid, Sammiches and Psych Meds, the Parental Guidance blog on nj.com and elsewhere.
She lives in New Jersey with her husband and two children and is currently at work on her second novel.