Sometimes I’m surprised at the books that grab me.
A few weeks ago, I read What Alice Forgot. It’s a good book, but not a great one–and yet I’ve found myself constantly returning to its themes since I finished it.
The novel revolves around Alice, a sweet 29-year-old who is crazy in love with her husband Nick and expecting their first child. But then Alice bumps her head and comes to on the floor of a gym (where she never goes), and finds that she’s actually a 39-year-old mother of 3 who’s in the middle of divorcing the man she’s come to hate.
Alice’s concussion has erased her memory of the past decade. She doesn’t know what’s happened to her these past 10 years, or who she’s become, or what happened to her happy marriage. She’s about to find out.
At its heart, What Alice Forgot is about how good relationships go bad. Researchers agree that marriages–like Alice and Nick’s–don’t end in a moment. Marriage expert John Gottman says, “Most marriages die with a whimper, as people turn away from one another, slowly growing apart.”
In What Alice Forgot, we don’t see Alice and Nick slowly grow apart. We don’t see the ugliness creep into their marriage over time. We see the relationship blissfully happy–and then broken. We don’t see the middle. And the contrast is jarring.
Because we don’t see the middle, we can’t tell when he stops kissing her goodbye in the morning, or that she begins to nag him more and more, or that the sarcasm in his voice takes on a cruel edge. We’re left to wonder how it all went wrong.
Maybe it’s because I just found out the marriage of someone close to me is coming to a sad end. Maybe it’s because of the transition I’m experiencing in my own home life right now. But I’m surprised at how this book has me thinking hard about the road I’m on in my own relationship.
It’s the little things that make (or break) a relationship: the tone of your voice, how you bring up touchy subjects, whether or not you bother to make small talk. Little things.
I’m thinking about the little things in my own relationship right now, and where they’ll carry me in ten years time.
Recommended Reading About Making Relationships Work:
The Best Book You’ve Never Heard of on Making Marriage Work. Happy marriages have a lot in common. Here’s how to look at your own relationship through the eyes of a marital therapist (and avoid the dreaded 4 horsemen of the marriage apocalypse).
The Magic 5 Hours for a Successful Marriage. What separates successful marriages from failing ones? Surprisingly, the answer is five hours a week.
No Wonder They Call It the Marriage Killer. You’ll be surprised at the culprit that’s responsible for more divorces than infidelity or financial woes.
What book has really grabbed you—to your own surprise?
Books mentioned in this post: