Do our memories define our personality? If we were to lose all our memories tomorrow, would we eventually end up as the same person we were before the loss? Or would we be able to create a new personality, even with the same outside forces dictating our lives? These questions are explored in Allison Winn Scotch’s latest novel, “The Song Remains the Same.”
Nell Slattery wakes up in a hospital bed and has no idea who she is or what her relationship is to the people crying right next to her. She learns that she was one of the only two survivors of a tragic plane crash and is soon followed by paparazzi wherever she goes. Even though she has to trust the memories that her mom, sister, friends and husband are trying to feed her, she soon realizes that everyone has their own agenda and nothing is really what it seems. Nell must try to piece the memories in place in order to get her life back to where she wanted it in the first place.
I’ve read quite a few books about amnesia where there was a time travel feel, and was expecting another one with “The Song Remains the Same.” This time instead of taking away a span of time from her main character, Ms. Scotch just erases all memories of her life and allows her readers to imagine what it would be like to forget everything you know. She paints a huge blank canvas for Nell on which to piece together her life, even though she could only work with what she was given. All the characters, especially Nell, seemed very realistic. The dialogue was genuine and was a strong force throughout the story. I also liked her incorporation of music, although I might have to look up some of the songs to know what she was talking about. There were times when I felt like I wasn’t sure the direction the story was headed, but then Ms. Scotch would toss in a huge surprise for Nell, which would keep me on my toes until the next piece of shocking news. I also liked the descriptive details that really made me feel like part of the story and not just an outside observer.
On the flip side, I noticed that the “G” word was used way too much. I refuse to say the word here, as I don’t really feel comfortable using it on a religious level. I would have actually preferred the “F” word to this word. Also, I liked Ms. Scotch’s past book covers that featured females and confetti, or something of that nature. This cover of “The Song Remains the Same” was very dull in comparison. If I didn’t already know and like Ms. Scotch’s writing, I probably wouldn’t have been drawn to this novel by the cover alone. Aside from that, there were a few times when the story dragged a bit, but Ms. Scotch was able to pick up the pace each time that happened. A lot of this dragging feel had to do with the use of “psychobabble.” I know that’s sometimes hard to avoid in books about memory loss, but it felt like I was reading a self-help manual or inspirational guide at times.
Overall, I liked how Ms. Scotch handled the subject matter of what seems like a recurring theme in chick lit novels these days. (It also had interesting timing, as “The Vow” came out in theaters last month.) She has an amazing voice for writing, one that really captivates readers and makes them feel like they really know her characters. I enjoyed getting to know Nell and all her complex layers, and she even managed to surprise me.
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