Review: The Memory Jar

Title: The Memory Jar
Author: Elissa Janine Hoole
Publisher: Flux
Publication Date: April 8, 2016

From Goodreads

Since the accident, Taylor’s memory has been fuzzy. But at least she’s awake. Who knows what her boyfriend, Scott, will remember when he comes out of the coma. Will he remember that Taylor was driving the snowmobile when it crashed? Will he remember the engagement ring? Her pregnancy?

Will he remember that she tried to break up with him?

Taylor doesn’t know. And she doesn’t know if she wants him to remember. Plenty of things happened that night and before—secrets wrapped in secrets—that she’d prefer be forgotten.

Facing choices she’d rather ignore, Taylor searches for something more solid than whispers and something bigger than blame to face the future and forgive herself.

The Memory Jar certainly has an interesting premise. Girl gets into an accident that she can’t remember that lands boyfriend in a coma. The summary had me interested enough to read it, but within the first few lines I was turned off. This book is definitely not a book for everyone and unfortunately it was not for me.
It was a strange experience reading this book. I disliked the narrator’s voice a lot and didn’t care for the story because of it, but at the same time I wanted to know what actually happened during the accident. The only reason I kept reading even when I felt so done at times was because I needed to know where this was going.
The story itself switches between “Now” scenes and “Then” scenes. I don’t necessarily dislike that kind of set up in general, but in this particular novel each of the scenes were so short I felt like I kept disconnecting to the story every single time it switched. It’s hard to connect to a character if they feel unreliable and Taylor felt unreliable. This felt like one of those books where the ending was going to be something completely off the wall and I would wonder why I wasted my time with it. That feeling came in large part because of the switching between then and now.
I also felt like there were several things that contradicted other things in the novel. I read the novel in almost one sitting so I didn’t have time to forget the details that I read. Maybe it was because of this that some things seemed off to me. The timeline was a major thing. I don’t feel like there is a clearly defined timeline for this novel.
I know that the character is pregnant, but at one point she talks about needing to have an abortion before the first trimester is over. She says that is eight weeks away. Then she says its ten weeks away. Then she says that she was 6 weeks pregnant at the time she told her boyfriend, Scott, the same one that is in a coma. This was something that was very confusing to me and I feel like should have been more defined. Why are there so many references to time using her pregnancy that don’t add up?
The character of Taylor speaks in a voice I am not familiar with in teenagers. Possibly I just hadn’t read or interacted with a teenager like this in real life (neither when I was one nor now). This girl sounded like a jaded 27 year old woman. She was not someone I connect with now and certainly not someone who I would have connected with as a teenager. The author tried to make her more relatable by referencing Harry Potter and Doctor Who (two things that I LOVE) and I STILL could not form a connection with Taylor. She also goes back and forth so much about her true feelings for Scott. Every time she tried to say she wasn’t in love with him or that she was in love with him or when some other character commented about how they were never really meant for each other I got annoyed. Why are you telling me this and not showing me this. It did not feel authentic and so once again it was hard to believe what was happening. I understand that everyone is able to change their mind, but it felt like she should have been a little clearer over her feelings and not flip as much as she did.
The character of Kendall was an odd addition to the book. I have no idea what purpose she served. She came in causing conflict when there was already enough conflict in the book. It seemed to distract from the main story that the author was trying to weave aka what happened during the accident and what is Taylor going to do about this baby? This did not need to be in the book. It irks me to have a “random” sub plot thrown in that didn’t really need to be included. I don’t feel like it advanced the overall plot at all.
Taylor’s mother also seemed odd to me. It was mentioned in there that Scott definitely felt as though Taylor was being abused by her mother, or at least that there were abusive tendencies. Taylor makes it clear that her mother and she do not get along. She even wonders why her mother didn’t have an abortion because her mother has made comments about how much Taylor altered her life (and not for the better it seems). Her mother’s reply that it was because she loved Taylor’s father (who then left them) doesn’t seem to help the mother/daughter relationship at all. Then at the end of the novel there is a complete turn in the mother and suddenly she is on her daughter’s side no matter what. This was a strange moment for me. Was the author trying to show readers that they shouldn’t always assume that others will react a certain way because they could surprise you? If this was the case however then why go to the other lengths to show that the mother had abusive tendencies and that she and Taylor don’t get along? What? I am missing a point here and I am not even sure what it was.
I also want to know why Understanding Emily wasn’t fleshed out more. She is shown in quite a few scenes, but she has basically no character or personality besides being understanding. Her parents and the guy from the news are the same way. They kind of felt like fillers. Even the nurse who was filled with compassion felt like they had more depth than those other characters. Why did that happen?