Love Water Memory by Jennie Shortridge
Published by Gallery Books
Review copy provided by She Reads
I was excited when I learned that Love Water Memory was the January selection for the She Reads book club because I’ve enjoyed Shortridge’s books in the past and unfortunately, I didn’t get to this one when it was originally published in hardcover, even though I had really hoped to. So this was a perfect selection for me.
This novel is the story of thirty-nine-year-old Lucie Walker, who wakes up one day sitting in the San Francisco Bay, with no idea of who she is or why she got there. She learns at the hospital that she’s suffering from amnesia caused by some emotional trauma that is unknown to her, and that she’s engaged to a man named Grady Goodall. When Grady gets to the hospital to pick her up, she has no choice but to go home with this stranger, to a strange home, and possibly to a successful career she knows nothing about. As the weeks go on and she and Grady tentatively get to know each other – she getting to know a whole new person and Grady getting to know a new Lucie, as she’s changed quite a bit, she must dig dip to unravel secrets from her past to figure out what really happened in her childhood and what caused her to run from her life.
Love Water Memory pulled me in from the very beginning, with Lucie confused and alone, knee-deep in cold water, and I almost didn’t put it down until the very end. I connected with Lucie instantly – I cannot possibly imagine what complete memory loss must feel like, but Shortridge did such a good job showing the reader through Lucie’s eyes how difficult it was that I felt that pain right along with her. She broke my heart with how desperate she was for answers, how much she ached to feel in love with this man she was engaged to, and how raw and real her pain was at the simple desire to know herself.
Something that Shortridge did really well in this story is tell it from the point of view of both Lucie and Grady. It gave a more complete picture of their story to see it from his eyes too. I felt so sad for him as well – this woman he loved with his whole heart, with everything he has, doesn’t even know who he is. How awful must that feel? I cannot even imagine. It was heartbreaking to see how both Grady and Lucie were so desperate for one another, yet since they felt like they barely knew one another after her amnesia, neither one had the courage to be honest and talk about their feelings.
Ultimately the reader learns, along with Lucie, what was so traumatic about her childhood and what specific incident pushed her to run away and empty her mind of all memories when she did. It’s horrible, and it makes the reader feel even more deeply for Lucie. But also it causes the reader to feel that she is incredibly brave, to have gone through what she’s been through and come out on the other end a mostly normal, well-adjusted, successful person. And once this is all out there, her ability to love and be loved grew so much. It was beautiful to read this transformation in her heart and in her personality.
I really enjoyed this book, just as I have enjoyed previous Shortridge novels. She’s really a talented author who gets women and knows how to write relationships. Kudos to She Reads for another great pick!