Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Love Water Memory by Jennie Shortridge (Review)

If you enjoy stories that explore emotional trauma and psychological drama, you will definitely enjoy this novel.


Title: Love Water Memory by Jennie Shortridge
Category: Adult Fiction, 352 pages
Genre: Women's Fiction 
Publisher: Gallery Books
Published on: January 14, 2014
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (f-words and religious expletives, themes of family abuse, mental illness, prejudice and some violence)


Who is Lucie Walker? Even Lucie herself can't answer that question after she comes to, confused and up to her knees in the chilly San Francisco Bay. Back home in Seattle, she adjusts to life with amnesia, growing unsettled by the clues she finds to the selfish, carefully guarded person she used to be. Will she ever fall in love with her handsome, kindhearted fiance, Grady? Can he devote himself to the vulnerable, easygoing Lucie 2.0, who is so unlike her controlling former self? When Lucie learns that Grady has been hiding some very painful secrets that could change the course of their relationship, she musters the courage to search for the shocking, long-repressed childhood memories that will finally set her free.

Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

I've always been attracted to stories that deal with mental illness and memory loss. Love Water Memory turned out to be a very satisfying read. A tale of finding one's true self while overcoming painful trauma.

Lucie Walker is found far from home a week after she ran away without any recollection of who she is. She has dissociative fugue, which is defined as "a psychiatric disorder characterized by amnesia coupled with sudden unexpected travel away from the individual's usual surroundings and denial of all memory of his or her whereabouts during the period of wandering". Now that's a mouthful.

Lucie doesn't remember what she did or where she stayed during the week she was wandering nor the reason why she left. After she's found, her fiancĂ© Grady picks her up. He's emotional and relieved she's okay, but he notices she's not quite the same. She is not uptight or reserved like her former self, but instead, she has a warmth and a lust for life in a way she's never displayed before. Slowly, Lucie starts to piece together what has happened to her. And Grady must also come to terms with his own past losses. He has a hard time handling the whole situation with Lucie as it puts into question the way he deals with stress.

I enjoyed the alternating point of view from the main characters, allowing me to experience the raw emotions as they experienced them. Lucie and Grady came across as real characters. Flawed, hurting, and both needing to heal and to start over. It's difficult to understand mental illness and to distinguish what is a personality flaw versus the manifestation of a misunderstood mental illness. Lucie's repressed childhood memories were so strong that eventually, she snapped.

Because of the amnesia, this felt in part like a mystery. I enjoyed the whole plot being based on a dissociative disorder, and it prompted me to do further research on it. The mind is so complex and fascinating that it will do what it must to survive when traumatized. Love Water Memory captured this well and kept me reading until the last page.

My only complaint is the bad language (f-words and religious expletives) throughout, which I thought was too much for women's fiction. Apart from this, if you enjoy stories that explore emotional trauma and psychological drama, you will definitely enjoy this novel.

Disclosure: Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

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Photograph by Natalia Dotto

Jennie Shortridge has published five novels: Love Water Memory, When She Flew, Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe, Eating Heaven, and Riding with the Queen. When not writing, teaching writing workshops, or volunteering with kids, Jennie stays busy as a founding member of, a collective of Northwest authors devoted both to raising funds for community literacy projects and to raising awareness of Northwest literature.

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