Remember Me?
by Sophie Kinsella
(Dial, $25, PG-13) ISBN  978-0-385-33872-1
****
Imagine waking up three years into the future (or so you think). Your face is different. Your sister's morphed from a cute little girl into a surly, trouble-making teen. You've missed your father's funeral and your own wedding. To top it all off, you've traded your life as a lowly – but fairly happy – peon for a position as a bitch-on-wheels boss with no friends and an entire existence you don't understand.

Welcome to Lexi Smart's world. The last thing she remembers is falling down a flight of stairs trying to hail a cab after a fairly miserable night out with her pals to mope over not getting a bonus and her boyfriend standing her up. In 2004. In 2007, she awakens in a hospital bed after a car accident with no memory of the past three years. Try as she might, nothing clicks for her, and Lexi wholeheartedly launches herself into re-learning her life. After all, she's like Sleeping Beauty – go to sleep for a few years, and wake up with a castle and a prince.

Okay, so Eric, her stranger-husband, isn't exactly a prince; he's in real estate, and their castle is one of the fabulous lofts that he builds and sells to the rich and trendy. It doesn't seem like the kind of life Lexi would have chosen for herself (where did all her stuff go, anyway?), but no one seems to have a real good reason for the sudden personality change three years before.

Then Jon, Eric's architect, turns Lexi's new and still shaky world upside-down again. Lexi insists that she's not the sort to cheat, and that she would never have been involved in an affair with him. And although Jon is having trouble coming to grips with the fact that the love of his life doesn't even remember his face, let alone their relationship, he carefully introduces her to the story of them.

Meanwhile, the department Lexi now heads is about to be disintegrated. Since Lexi has no idea what's happened at the company for three years, trying to save it proves difficult, especially since her employees loathe her and her second-in-command has ego issues. Trying to cope with the double life she was leading, recovering her standing at her job, and getting down to why she made such fierce changes in her life are the basis for Lexi's story. And Lexi's story will take readers through a myriad of emotions, not the least of which is frustration.

Kinsella does a great job of making one well aware of Lexi's heartaches and confusion. The lengths to which she'll go to recover something of herself and to coincide what she remembers with what is are enough to bring tears to your eyes, especially considering the number of times that she fails.

This is no action-packed, face-paced suspense tale. It's a story about a normal life twisted not once but twice by extraordinary events. The novel is told in the first person, but through Lexi's eyes the reader becomes very aware of the other characters. One fascinating thing about that is that you'll keep looking for a bad guy, when there really aren't any.  Kinsella will dangle that carrot, only to yank it away from you, leaving everyone – including her heroine – baffled and raw.

Though Remember Me? follows Kinsella's usual chick lit patterns, it's much more emotional than her previous books, since it touches on darker things.  For those expecting something like the Shopaholic books, forget it. Remember Me? is just as good (if not better), but they are not much alike.

--Sarrah Knight


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