Yesterday, I finished My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares. The book stood out to me in the library because it was written by the same author who wrote the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, which I enjoyed immensely when I was a teenager.
My Name is Memory features the same emotional, descriptive writing style, but it was a story about romantic love, not a story about close friendship (although the two come together at times). The premise of the book is that all people have past lives, but there are a rare few (like the main character, Daniel) who remember all of their past lives, and who thus have what is called the “memory.” Daniel has fallen in love with the same woman over the thousands of years he’s lived in different bodies, places, and times. His love, whom he calls “Sophia,” is currently inhabiting the body of Lucy Broward, an ordinary high school student. Because Lucy does not have the “memory,” she’s understandably freaked out when Daniel shows up telling her that he’s loved her for such a long time, and he’s been chasing after her trying to right the ways he had wronged her in their past lives. Eventually, she does (with the help of a psychic and a hypnotist) remember some of her past lives and the women she had been… and she understands what Daniel means to her and what she means to him.
I liked the book, but only enough to give it 3 out of 5 stars. I guess it was too saccharine and lovey-dovey for my taste… one of those books with so much romance, it kind of makes you cringe. I normally like romance novels, but it didn’t seem as though the characters were that strong. I found it difficult to sympathize with Sophia/Lucy, and Daniel’s character was well-drawn, but he seemed eerily perfect, like the muscle-bound hero of many paperback romances. There wasn’t much to him except his single-minded devotion to Sophia/Lucy.
The book’s conflict came from an ancient foe, someone who is able to take over bodies of people who have not yet died. This person is Joachim, who had been Daniel’s evil brother in a past life, and who had once been married to Sophia/Lucy. Joachim will stop at nothing to have Daniel’s soul mate, and it would have been a really good conflict, but it could have been a focal point of the story. It felt like it was just tacked on because an editor said at some point during the publication process that the book needed more drama and conflict.
Worst of all, the book ended on somewhat of a cliffhanger. The conflict between Daniel and Joachim was never actually wrapped up, which makes me think that the book ought to have a sequel. Honestly, I can’t say I would read the sequel if one was written, but if there is no sequel, there will be far too many loose ends to bring any kind of reader satisfaction.