Review of Cecilia Ahern’s ‘Thanks for the Memories’

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Cecilia Ahern has been an Irish novelist since 2004 and is best known for her novel ‘P.S I love you’, which has been turned into a film. For a long time, she has been one of my favourite authors. One of the reasons for this is her ability to combine genres and to provoke multiple layers of emotions together in order to make her novels exciting and gripping, allowing plot twists and unexpected scenarios intertwine in her stories.

The most recent novel that I have finished reading is ‘Thanks for the Memories’. The first thing, like many other people, do when discovering a new book is to read the tagline and the blurb, and this for me indicates whether I want to read on further. For Cecilia Ahern, the tag line was enough to get me hooked, ‘How do you know someone you’ve never met?’ Almost instantly I was intrigued with this rhetorical question and simply wanted it to be answered and at the same time coming up with my own outcomes and possibilities to answer the question. As a result, when discovering the answer I was suitably satisfied.

Furthermore, the basic storyline is about a man and a woman (Joyce and Justin) who have never met, but are both going through a mid-life crisis and things have drastically changed and gone downhill in their lives. For example, the loss of Joyce’s baby is a traumatic and life changing moment for her character. Justin on the other hand, has just come out of a divorce. This all changes shortly after Joyce exits hospital and Joyce and Justin both sense each other’s thoughts and start to develop similar personalities overnight – the reason why is left uncertain to the readers at this point. The whole book flips from one character’s perspective to another, cleverly jumping from the two in the matter of paragraphs to show how their lives mirror each other. If you want a challenge and like the idea of being one or more voice, then this book is definitely for you.

Cecilia Ahern is also known throughout her novels for discretely approaching hard -hitting topics. For instance, in ‘Thanks for the Memories’ Joyce loses her baby in a traumatic circumstance and throughout the novel Ahern has the ability to shock the readers, but not enough for them to stop reading or get too emotionally involved. In the scene where Joyce loses her baby, the use of language and the descriptions are delicately and beautifully written with the view that individuals reading might be affected by this. In comparison when looking at ‘My Sisters Keeper’, a film adaptation that is similarly related to a loss or losing a child, the whole purpose of the film is to pull on the heartstrings and provoke emotion deliberately to show what it is like to have leukaemia, whereas Cecilia Ahern’s mention of the loss is short and precise allowing the reader to be involved in the comedic and psychological aspects of the book later on.

Another comparison between ‘My Sisters Keeper’, is the different way the film portrays loss. For example during ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ the audience is fully aware of the child’s significant disease and is reminded about it throughout the whole film. In contrast, in ‘Thanks for the Memories’, there is so much more going on in the book especially for Joyce. For example divorce, hearing voices and looking after her father that the readers almost forget about the tragic loss of Joyce’s baby. This is what makes Cecilia Ahern so unique by allowing the readers to completely immerse themselves into her characters to the point where they are even thinking like them. This also means that the book can have a dual focus rather than focus on one issue.

Additionally, when looking at the genre of ‘Thanks for the Memories’ it is already suggested that Cecilia Ahern’s novels have mixed genres. However if you had to select one that fits for this particular story it would be romance. But as previously stated, this would be far from the truth when looking at the story as a whole. The book also has elements of being put in a psychological genre because throughout the novel there is something more connected between the two characters than humanly possible. For example, Joyce has somehow learnt a new language overnight that Justin if fluent in. For me as a reader, the slight hint of something supernatural or not being real set in a normal every day environment (so as it seems), triggers a sense of wonder and a need to find out how these two people are connected.

Also, I appreciate the references to family relationships in the book as well as romantic relationships. Joyce’s dad is a big part of her life and this is beautifully depicted in the story by referencing age and how Joyce is at that time of her life where she has to look after her father. This can be considered to be an emotional read for some but Ahern’s raw honesty about the little moments and changes in life can be nostalgic. Also, the mention of a family can be relatable to the readers which help them to understand and sympathise the characters on a different level. For example, in Justin’s side of the story, his whole family are too involved in his life. As readers, we can feel the frustration when reading the novel.

Overall, this novel offers romance, mystery, emotion and involves a lot of plot twists to keep the readers on their toes. Also, the subtle hints and the desire to know how these two characters are connected was one of the reasons why I was struggling to put it down. A definite recommended read.

 

 

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