Title: The Woman Who Can’t Forget: The Extraordinary Story of Living with the Most Remarkable Memory Known to Science
Author: Jill Price
Publisher: Free Press
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Celeste Ciulla
First line: I know very well how tyrannical the memory can be.
Jill Price has a remarkable memory. Not the kind of memory that would allow her to memorize random lists of objects or strings of numbers – she has remarkable auto-biographical memory. Name a date since she turned twelve, and she’ll tell you what day of the week it was, what she was doing that day, and whether or not anything memorable happened in the news. Chances are she’ll be able to tell you what she had for lunch.
Her memories play like constant movies in her mind. A song, a TV program, a scent, a taste – any of these things can trigger her mind to replay the associated memories.
Think this sounds like a great thing? Think again. Yes, she says it is wonderful to be able to replay with perfect recall some of the best memories of her life. But she also is under constant attack by the painful memories – and she can’t shut them off. Break-ups of past relationships, fights with her mother, hurtful things said to her, hurtful things she said to others in a fit of anger – she can never forget those things.
Her story is fascinating and heartbreaking, and well worth reading. The only fault I had with the book is that it seemed to only scratch the surface emotionally. I didn’t really get the full sense of how some of Ms. Price’s memories have shaped her personality and self-image. In particular, I did not like the way she glossed over the hurtful and abusive things her mother said and did to her, almost excusing her mother’s behavior. Her mother is still living, and maybe that’s why it was difficult to be completely honest in that area.
That one area aside, this memoir is definitely worth your time. I was very interested in her story, and found the information about the brain and how the brain stores and retrieves memory to be fascinating.