frontier reads

When you are in a book club, sometimes you have to read things you don’t want to read.

My default is I don’t want to read about sad things, including such topics as final days while suffering from terminal cancer, the end of the world/extinction of species, the loss of my platoon while fighting in a war I don’t believe in. (There are much quicker ways to depress myself.)

Similarly, I would ask who wants to read about topics like sexual torture, but evidently I am in the minority, as every female on the planet read “50 Shades of Grey” except for the nuns and me.

When it’s my turn to choose books, I want cupcakes and unicorns and men in short shorts—happy, funny books. Imagine my utter deflation when I heard the book club (I recently crashed) was reading “What Alice Forgot.”

In my mind, I saw the movie “Still Alice,” starring Julianne Moore as a woman who has premature Alzheimer’s — and along with losing her memories loses her life — and I wanted to scream: “Who assigns something so damn depressing?!”

In my world, sad books are basically like going on a pro-depressant.

For those of you don’t know about book clubs, book clubs have three premises—Premise 1, you read an assigned book before the meeting; Premise 2, you drink wine when you convene and; Premise 3, you then discuss the book.

Only one premise is ever guaranteed at a book club — the drinking of the wine. The book part is more of a suggestion and one that is usually ignored as people clamor over the wine and the cheese and cracker tray.

So if the real purpose of the book club is to congregate, drink wine and get buzzed, I never understand the choice of a buzz killer for Book Club.

So, with the image of sad Julianne Moore coping with the loss of her identity and memories, I opted to NOT read the book. Yes, that’s me, the new member of the Book Club, violating Premise 1 (read the book before) and therefore Premise 3 (be able to discuss what you read at the meeting.)

Luckily, at Book Club the only book discussion centered on the movie where it was clarified that the Julianne Moore movie was NOT in fact based on the book “What Alice Forgot” …  though both coincidentally involve memory loss and both main characters are named Alice. To all of the Alices of the world: What did you do to deserve to be the namesake of female memory loss?

After clarification of the movie versus the book, I opted to pony up and read “What Alice Forgot” as I was $9.99 committed by the book’s purchase. I was also temporarily comforted that this would not be a sad book because though this was temporary memory loss (sad), it was not Alzheimer’s irreversible memory loss (very sad).


Our guest book reviewer, Rania Nasreddine.

I was wrong.

This book was hella sad. And not for the reasons one would think.

Alice, a crazy workout addict who loves her coffee and perfect routine, hits her head and can’t remember the last 10 years of her life including the birth of any of her three children, who post-head trauma, are just little needy strangers to her.

Alice also can’t remember why she is divorcing her husband who she remembers to be the love of her life. In telling Alice’s story, the author shows how even the best of relationships can die when they are not lovingly tended, but how new love can bloom.

This book is an unanticipated wake-up lesson for anyone in a frustrated or “prickly” relationship or nostalgic for a relationship’s past highs. My takeaway: You can fall out of love or you can fall in love — it all depends on which way you decide to fall.

The sadness (and requisite tears) involve Alice’s sister and grandmother.
Alice’s de-facto grandmother Frannie saved Alice’s mom when Alice’s dad died, and in the process became a grandmother to Alice and Elizabeth. But she never married or had her own children. Frannie writes to Phil, a past love, and ignores the possibility of any happiness in the present.

I won’t spoil the secret of Frannie’s past love, but if you get through it without a tear, I salute you with my Book Club Wine Glass.


Alice’s sister, Elizabeth, is a nearly 40-year-old childless, bitter woman who has the non-sexy profession of training people in the art of writing junk mail. Elizabeth has gone through countless IVF cycles, pregnancies and loss of babies.

Elizabeth isn’t sure whether to allow herself hope that her last frozen embryo will make it while all of the others haven’t. Having gone through my own female “south of the border” issues, I award this book the Pulitzer, the National Book, the Whatever Fancy Prize You Can Find for perfectly explaining how insane one feels trying to become a “fertile” and how the inability to do what others seem to do with ease can become a crushing life sentence.

Comic relief is provided by Alice and Elizabeth’s mom who is newly remarried, prancing around with her salsa-partner new husband (who happens to be Alice’s father-in-law) and whose cleavage displays and outfits cause much distress for Alice and Elizabeth.

The worst sad books are those that end on a sad note. This one is not one of those books. How each of these women finds love and redemption becomes fairly obvious as you move through the book, but still makes for a heart-warming trip.

As I told a fellow Book Clubber, this one has a surprisingly happy ending.

Read “What Alice Forgot.” It will be impossible to forget what a nice read this is.

Rania Nasreddine is an attorney and entrepreneur who is also a proud alumna of Booker T. Washington High School, Emory University and the University of Oklahoma law school. She loves Oklahoma so much, she built a company around the concept: Heart is Home.  Her favorite book is “Winter’s Tale.”