Review No.120 – Memory

Memory – Margaret Mahy

CollinsFlamingo, 2002

Five years ago three children played a dangerous game on the edge of the cliffs, a game of prophecy and myth, and Jonny’s sister Janine fell to her death. Now on the edge of adulthood, Jonny is directionless, picking a path through unstable memories. On the anniversary of Janine’s death he goes looking for the only other witness, but instead finds Sophie – an elderly woman even more lost to the past than Jonny himself, an unexpected guide into her own anarchic world.

I am somewhat divided over this book – there are traces of the same humour that infuriated me in The Catalogue of the Universe, but there is redeeming depth to some of those scenes and character growth as a result. It’s also interesting and unusual to have a main character who is not only elderly but has an advanced stage of dementia. The illness is written realistically, as are Jonny’s reactions to her erratic behaviour. The subjects of death, bullying, age and change are all woven together into a strange but thoughtful novel.

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