When I first thought about books that were forgettable, my mind jumped to my reads that I rated 3 stars or lower. As I looked at my Goodreads list of books I read, I realized that in some ways, these books were more memorable although not always in a good way. It was often very easy to remember what exactly I didn’t like about it. I was surprised to realize that some of the most forgettable books were actually books that I really enjoyed. I found that some of the books in the 4 star range were the most forgettable. I remembered enough to know that I enjoyed them, but couldn’t remember to much detail about the story or what I really liked. I’m sure a part of this is because I read so many books in total throughout the year that it’s impossible to have a distinct memory of them all. In fact, what tends to separate a 5 star reading from 4-star books is how likely I am to remember them long-term.
Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and is now hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. The official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.
1) Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks
I don’t know what it is about this book, but despite reading it multiple times, I have no memory of it whatsoever. When I was a teenager, I went through a phase where I read so many of Beatrice Sparks’ series of “anonymous” diaries of teenagers going through problems such as pregnancy, drug addiction, eating disorders, etc. This book focuses on a teenager named Alice who spirals into drug addiction after having LSD in a drink at a party. I read the book, and a couple of years later, realized I had no memory of it whatsoever and tried it again. It’s now been years since I’ve read it, but even pretty soon afterwards, I couldn’t tell you what happened in it or any details at all about the plot. It’s weird because I do have some memory of a couple of Beatrice Sparks’ other books, so it wasn’t just the format or the writing style that I found unmemorable. It was something specifically with this book that I’ve never been able to figure out.
2) Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
This book was only a 3-star read for me precisely because it was so generic and forgettable. It is about a teenage girl named Lina who is spending the summer in Italy due to her mother’s dying wish for her to know her father. While there, Lina receives the journal that her mother kept while living in Italy herself, and starts to uncover some of her family’s secrets. I’m honestly not 100% sure why I thought I’d enjoy this book because I’m not a big fan of the whole “teenagers grudgingly travel to Europe” nor of travel books in general. I was hoping that the story would be strong enough on the character side to keep my attention, but I found Lina irritating and she seemed so clueless about things that should have been really obvious. It was a quick and fluffy read, but completely forgettable.
3) Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate
I was pretty excited to read this book last year because of the whole “seven deadly sins” concept. The book is told from the perspective of seven high school students who each represent one of the sins, and whose school is faced with the scandal of a student-teacher affair. It was a great concept and I liked how the sin that the characters represented was not always immediately obvious. I also really liked how the author tried to incorporate a range of sexual orientations and especially how the author challenged attitudes toward women and toward sexuality. While I enjoyed the book well enough at the time, and ultimately rated it 4 stars, I can’t remember anything at all about the specifics of the plot. Considering I only read this book in November 2017, I would expect to have at least some memory of what it was about.
4) When We Collided by Emery Lord
This was another case of a book that I enjoyed for the most part while I read it, but pretty quickly forgot about afterwards. The problem with YA contemporary is that they all start to feel pretty similar after a while, especially when you read many close together. This book is about Vivi, who suffers from bipolar disorder, and Jonah, who is attempting to hold his family together after his father’s death and mother’s subsequent depression. I think part of the reason that the book was so forgettable for me is because I had a hard time buying into the relationship between the two main characters. It felt very, very rushed and they did not seem to be very well-suited for each other. It seemed like a very similar story could have been told if the characters were platonic friends, and it might have been that much more believable. Instead, we were expected to just accept that the characters were together and in love, with very little development to back it up. It was a decent book and I’m glad I gave it a chance, but definitely not the most memorable YA contemporary I’ve read (and I’ve read many)!
5) My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Maybe I just need to be more selective about the YA contemporaries that I read. I was on the fence about whether to include this book or What I Thought Was True which I read this year. I decided to pick this one because I actually really enjoyed it at the time, but can’t remember much of the story. This book is about a teenage girl named Samantha who falls in love with Jase Garrett, the boy next door whose large family is (for some reason) looked down on by others in their community. Samantha’s mom is running for state senator, and I remember her being an absolutely infuriating character but I can’t remember why. I liked the relationship that developed between Samantha and Jase, but I also thought both characters seemed a little on the one-dimensional side. It was another book that I enjoyed at the time, but forgot about pretty much as soon as I finished.