I really enjoyed one of Melissa Hills previous booked called Please Forgive Me, which I've also wrote a review on. After reading this I looked her up and realised that she'd actually wrote quite a lot of other chick lit books and decided I'd have to check them out. I actually found this one in a second hand book shop in pretty good condition!
The cover actually sort of reminds me of the covers of Dorothy Koomson's books; since there is a real person on the front cover and also it has a question on the front- on the cover it asks 'if you could hold onto just one memory what would it be?' This seems a lot more effective than the blurb, summing up the book in a sentence!
It is quite a unique book, it deals with memory loss which is a subject that I really strangely like - partly because I really loved the book Remember Me by Sophie Kinsella. Abby gets hit on the head, and when she wakes up she is told that she has suffered damage to her long term memory. She may not remember anything soon, even things such as liking sugar in her tea. So she decides that she really needs to make her life memorable in order to remember it, she sets out to have the most memorable year of her life before she forgets...
I liked this book, it was just as good as the previous book that I'd read by Melissa, and I'll certainly be browsing amazon for some by her! I really liked the concept, the only thing that brought it down was the occasional time when I found Abby a bit annoying - this was because there was quite a lot of characters in the novel so I didn't think that she really had time to develop them all properly as the book was fairly short at just over 300 pages. However it wasn't that often and it was still readable so it didn't matter too much. I particularly liked reading about the travel side of Abby's memorable years. If you want to read this it is £4.99 new on amazon currently or you can get it used with postage for about £1.50.
- - PLOT - -
Abby just wishes that everyone would leave her alone to immerse herself in her work, and let her get over Kieran in her own good time. Yes it was taking her a long time to get over him, and yes his wedding to his beautiful new bride was a kick to her already crushed heart but she would get over it in time. Abbey wishes she could just forget him, and the horrible mess ever happened!
That is until a freak accident causes a nasty blow to Abby's head and she is told by doctors that she could every memory she has, and there is as far as they know no way to stop this from happening. It could happen quickly or in small pieces, but eventually her memories would start to leave her.
Abby is determined not to be beaten by this news, and sets about making a list of unforgettable things to do that there is no way she would ever forget. She is helped by her friends and family, and especially her best friend Erin and between them they help give Abby a year of experiences that they hope the memories of which last for a lifetime.
When a chance meeting in New York throws Finn, a gorgeous Irishman into Abby's life, she wonders if it could be possible she could forget about Kieran, and not because of her bump on the head. Finn seems wonderful, smart, gorgeous, kind, funny and he doesn't treat Abby like the sick person her mother sometimes does.
Is there any hope for Abby and Finn? Will she remember him the next time they meet? Will Abby truly find a way to keep hold of her precious memories?
- - OPINION - -
This book got me thinking if I could keep hold of one memory what would it be? It's really hard in case anyone wants to try it. But it did make me think of some of the amazing things I have seen and done over my 25 years, some of which I hadn't thought about for sometime, which was a nice side effect of this novel.
I really liked the original idea of this book, well done Melissa. I found myself drawn in by the like able character of Abby, and I really felt for her sitting there being told by the doctors that she could lose every memory she had, how awful must that be? But I loved that instead of having Abby sit around and mope as she seemed to have been doing a lot of the time over kieran in the beginning of the novel, she is kicked into gear by the accident and sets off to make these amazing new memories.
I found the character of Finn suited the novel, he was a slightly country boy, but without some of the trappings of typical country folk in some other novels I have read. My heart really went out to him as the story progressed and at times I have to admit it brought a tear or two to my eye, but then again I am a massive softie.
The twist at the end of this story, I really enjoyed although part of me was screaming 'what are you doing?' I thought it was very clever and an interesting way to show how Abby may have been feeling after hearing even more difficult news.
I would give this book an easy five stars, I was captured from the very beginning, and I found the characters very easy to relate to, and it's great to have a chick lit novel with a bit of a different story line than the sometimes typical girl meets boy they fall in love, no problems ever arise in the run up to their happy ever after. A great story that made me want to make a list of dream things to do before I die.
- - INFO - -
ISBN - 9780340952993
PRICE - £4.99 on amazon a saving of £2
PAGES - 352
WEBSITE - find out more info on melissa Hill at her website - www.melissahill.info
This book has a very unique plot, which instantly put it to the top of my reading pile! Abby is trying to get over her broken heart, and wishes she could just forget her horrid ex boyfriend. Until she walks under a ladder and is told she could lose her memories entirely, that is.
This happens quite fast in the book, so I did worry what they would follow it up with, but when Abby decided to make herself some unforgettable memories, the book becomes unputdownable.
It wasn't perfect, however. The story is edged by a constant cheesiness, which makes it quite unbelievable. Abby herself can be quite annoying, and there were parts when I really wanted her to pull herself together! The author tries to create sympathy for her throughout, but doesn't quite manage it. Her sister, who is a rich and stuck up woman who likes to go shopping at every opportunity and endlessly spends her husbands money was too much of a cliched irritation to actually add to the book.
The relationship between Abby and Finn is well written, and I liked the idea of an unpredictable twist at the end, but it isn't really pulled off, and instead of a twist it's a confused mess. I had to read the ending three times, and I'm still not really sure how it all ended.
Overall, its a good book, but it could be improved. Don't read it in a critical mood!
Melissa Hill is one of my favourite contemporary authors so I am always highly delighted to read a new book from her. As she is an Irish writer, all her novels are set in and around Dublin and usually focus on a thirty something female, often facing a major trauma. This is the case with Before I forget, her latest, but that does not in any way make her a formulaic writer, as each book feels fresh and original and an extremely good read.
At the start of the book, Abby's partner of four years has just left her and, in dealing with her misery, she is becoming a bit of a workaholic and a social recluse. One morning, on her way to work she becomes the victim of a freak accident and suffers a brain injury that is going to affect her long term memory. Faced with the prospect of forgetting all that she holds dear, Abby re-evaluates the way she has been living and makes a list of all the memorable experiences she hopes to create. She also sets about capturing all the memories in a 'memory chest' on her computer so that she will be able to remember all the wonderful experiences. Suddenly she is enjoying life a lot more especially when she meets the handsome and thoughtful Finn. Unexpectedly, Abby's life has never looked better except, of course, for the fact that she keeps forgetting things.
This is an immensely readable book and one that had me hooked from the very start. The theme is very thought provoking and certainly made me wonder how I would feel if I were faced with losing all my treasured memories. It is not a solemn read though as there is a good sense of fun throughout providing the message that life is for living. Abby's wish list is quite inspired especially when friends and family members contribute to it recommending experiences that Abby would never have dreamed of for herself. This is especially true when her brother Dermot takes her to race a Ferrari! As Abby reflects, he was probably fulfilling his own wishes as much as hers.
At times the book is written as Abby's daily entry into her memory chest and it is through these musings that the reader really gets to know her and to sympathise with her somewhat fragile and vulnerable state of mind. She is an immensely likeable character and as you are reading, you can't help but hope that all her doctors are wrong and she will overcome this terrible injury. At times she is extremely positive but at other times finds her situation all too frightening. Although she loves the relationship she now has with Finn, she also agonises over whether it is fair remain with him when there is a good chance that she could wake up one morning and completely forget who he is.
Like Abby, all the characters are very likeable, particularly when they do all they can to help their sister and friend. It is the relationships that are described so perfectly in this book that makes it such an enjoyable and memorable read. If you can understand why characters act the way they do, you can believe in them too which is what happened as I read this.
Melissa Hill does have a habit of presenting her readers with the unexpected and this is the case with this book too. You might think that you know where the story is going but don't be so sure. I could never have guessed what was going to be revealed towards the end, but having read a few of her books, I wasn't surprised. If that sounds very cryptic, you'll just have to read the book to find out what I mean.
I am a big fan of Melissa Hill's books - The first one I read was The Last to Know, and I have been trying to track down her older titles since. Before I Forget is her latest title, and having converted my best friend to a fan this book came courtesy of her.
As a huge chick lit fan, I find the real appeal of Melissa Hill's books is the fact they are not fluffy or predictable. They tend to take on an unpredictable rollercoaster ride, and when you think that you have the story line sussed it then throws you in the opposite direction!!
The main character of the book is Abby, who seems to live life in the slow lane. She doesn't like to fly, eat exotic foods or do anything out of the ordinary. We first meet her as she is on her way to watch her ex boyfriend Kieran marry the girl he left her for less than a year ago. She still has not gotten over the break up and has become somewhat reclusive, avoiding her friends and family wherever possible. A week after Kieran's wedding a chance call from her best friend Erin makes her late for work, and as she is rushing on the way to the office she is struck by a falling roof tile.
The chance accident has damaged the part of the brain which holds her memories, and there is a chance that she may soon forget everything that has ever happened to her, and everything that she experiences going forward - the doctor describes it as the bridge between the long and short term memory being broken, and things from either side can fall into that void.
Abby cannot believe this is going to happen, as she feels so well. She decides to make a list of all the things she has ever wanted to do and have the most unforgettable year of her life. She also allows her family to each plan an experience for her, and she finds herself doing things she would never imagine. These experiences help her to find herself, and to heal her relationship with her family, and she starts to keep an extensive diary in an attempt to keep everything alive. But is she just fighting the inevitable?
Before I forget is not quite as twisty and as unpredictable as Melissa Hill's other novels. By the time I was 3 quarters of the way through the book I was frantically panicking that there would be no trademark twist, and that the author had reverted to standard chick lit. However, it was weaved subtly into the story line that it took me completely by surprise!! That is the best thing about her books, as true to form they are likely to have an upbeat ending, but you are going to have a few jaw dropping moments before you get there!! However I did find the last couple of chapters in this book particularly touching.
Melissa Hill writes her stories in the third person, which is my preferred style. It also means that as well as Abby you get great insight into other characters. I found her sister Caroline particularly likable and her character develops throughout the book, from the kept woman she is introduced as at the beginning. Finn is well written as a worthy love interest for Abby, although what woman could dislike a man who trains guide dogs!!!
I was unable to put this book down, and got through it in about two days. That is my only complaint about Melissa Hill's books - I get through them far too quickly, and I can't wait for her next one! The book reminded me a bit of the film 50 First Dates, although a lot less extreme!! If you liked that film then I would definitely read this one! I think Melissa Hill is definitely now up there with the likes of Marian Keyes and Patricia Scanlan, and is definitely my favourite author at the moment!!
Paperback published by Hodder Books - 341 pages.
I am a huge fan of Melissa Hill's books and have read pretty much everything she has written so far, bar a few that I can't get hold of from the library! I was surprised to see that this book had passed me by and only heard of it after a browsing session on Amazon. The storyline intrigued me so I quickly looked at the library to see if they had a copy and luckily they did. I was hoping that it would live up to my high expectations (only set by how great her other books are!) and eagerly read it. It was brilliant, and I hope this comes across in my review for "Before I Forget".
Abby Ryan is quite happy with life, but all that changes when she's hit by falling debris when she's walking under a ladder on her way to work. When she awakes, she finds out that her memory is damaged, and that she has lost much of her long-term memory. She's devastated, but also slightly in denial. So Abby sets about creating some new, fantastic memories with the help of her family and close friends, ones that she hopes she will be able to hold onto despite her declining health. On her amazing adventures, Abby bumps into someone who soon becomes a close friend. But is she willing to let him into her life and let him become something more?
Melissa Hill always tries something different with her books, and explores areas that other authors in the genre probably wouldn't go down the route of. This books explores the aftermath of someone having an accident that will change the rest of their lives, and not only them but the people surrounding that person too. However, this book is a little different from other material the author has written in that it is focussed on one character and her life unlike other books which have chosen to focus on a group of characters, linked by some event or other. In another change from the norm, there isn't really a mystery element to this book, but still I was hooked and loved every page.
The lead character of Abby is very important, not only because she is the focus of the story, but because the audience has to like her and empathise with her, otherwise the book just wouldn't work. However, this wasn't a problem because of Hill's skill with writing and creating a character that just comes to life on the pages and into the minds of her readers. Abby was just a normal girl whose life took a shocking turn, and her accident was something that could easily happen to just you or me. This made it all the more believable and consequently I found myself getting involved in the story very quickly and in Abby's life as well. Abby's reaction to her situation is also very believable and I could see myself reacting the same way.
The reaction of Abby's family was also very important and played an integral part in the story. Finn was a great character who also reacted well to the whole scenario of Abby, and I instantly warmed to him. The rest of her family were also likeable, and that is why I like Melissa Hill's book so much. They are always completely focussed on the characters as well as the storyline and it always works so seamlessly to create a wonderful story and it makes her books so readable. The progression is good and doesn't move too quickly, instead choosing to focus on the events that Abby's family take her on and her visits with her therapist too. Hill has clearly done her research certain things in the book, such as the medical issues that Abby faces, and also New York too as this features largely in the book too.
This isn't my favourite book of Melissa Hill's as it doesn't have the major twists and turns that her other books do, but it still a great read and one her fans will definitely enjoy. She once again writes an excellent story that draws you in and keeps you hooked until the last page is turned. It doesn't get too heavy with medical jargon, but of course there is some in there because of the nature of the story. Hill manages to make it make sense though, and its all explained so you fully understand what each of these characters are going through. Although Abby is the main character, I really did love Finn because of his support and his own little storyline as well that was quite touching. As I said, its different from some of her other stuff, but its great and a very enjoyable read. I would definitely recommend it to her fans, but also to anyone who just loves a really good book.
ISBN: 978-034095294. Published by Hodder in May 2009. The paperback contains 352 pages.
Author website: http://www.melissahill.info
Thank you for reading.