A review by Nalini Haynes
From the title, Lies My Memory Told Me, the reader assumes Nova has false memories. This is somewhat spoilery. However, the mystery is what are the false memories? Who and how they were planted is less of a concern than why.
Nova seems too good to be true, too much the perfect – Stepford – daughter. Especially considering the lack of care and concern her parents show her.
On her 16th birthday, her parents give Nova a “virtual” memory that is best akin to a computer game but feels real. This isn’t one of the false memories, she recalls it like you’d recall playing a computer game. But this was a pivotal moment in family life.
Kade mistakes Nova for someone else at a club. After he rescues Nova from a creepy guy outside the club, they embark on the rocky road of friendship although they’re very different people.
Kade became addicted to virtual memories until his life derailed. Now he’s against them, as vehemently as any “clean” addict. Instead he makes real memories, films them and puts them on YouTube. However, he’s afraid. Very afraid of the Powers That Be.
One of the strengths of Lies My Memory Told Me is its questioning of who we are if we can’t trust our memories. Narrative Therapy says our sense of self is derived from stories so therapists seek to mine positive memories and reinforce those stories to build and repair the sense of self.
It’s not uncommon to distrust your memories and feelings after gaslighting, which is a real-world equivalent to Nova’s experience. Towards the end of Lies My Memory Told Me, Nova must build a new sense of self. Teens working out who they want to be as adults, those emerging from abusive situations and others at pivotal points in their lives will relate.
Lies My Memory Told Me is a young adult coming of age novel that weaves together addiction, grief, and realizing a sense of self in an engaging story. Part thriller, part romance, part family drama, this story feels particularly relevant now, in a time where “unprecedented” is overused and everyone’s expectations of life have been crushed by the brutal reality of a pandemic, bushfires, floods and more.
Read this if you enjoyed The Chimes by Anna Smaill.
Want a “traditional” ending?
The very final conclusion surprised me. In a good way. Although I admit some readers will be like me regarding the final 5 minutes of Edge of Tomorrow: IT DIDN’T HAPPEN. If so, just skip the last couple of pages (from about the second half of the second page in chapter 31) and you can imagine your ideal ending.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Imprint: HQ Young Adult (HarperCollins)
Format: paperback, 304 pages, plus other formats
Age: From 13 years
Category: young adult fiction, Thrillers & Suspense, speculative fiction