A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.
France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.
Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.
But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.
“Books, she has found, are a way to live a thousand lives–or to find strength in a very long one.”
This was the first book that I ever bought after experiencing the peer pressure of TikTok’s book community. It had so many rave reviews that I just had to see if it lived up to the hype.
Intelligent, resourceful, and unwilling to be trapped in a normal life in her small village, she makes a deal with a trickster god that seems to give her everything she wants. She immediately finds out that maybe her immortality isn’t all its cracked up to be, as her entire existence is erased. We then follow Addie through time in what is probably the loneliest existence anyone can imagine, being forgotten as soon as she leaves someone’s line of sight. Sure, she lives an extraordinary life: experiencing vibrant cultures, being an artistic muse more times than you can count, traveling the world. But she doesn’t really get to enjoy all of these things as someone usually would because of the predicament she’s in. She longs for normalcy, though she appreciated her freedom and immortality; Addie’s internal struggle is even further heightened when she meets someone who remembers her. After 300 years of being completely and totally alone (save the sarcastic, brooding god who helped her into this mess), Addie clings to the possibility of finally sharing her story even if it is only ever going to be heard by one soul.
As a reader, I was in awe of Schwab’s ability to think of everything that could possibly happen in this situation, and how well she wrote the explanations of how Addie deals with the difficulties on a day-to-day basis. Addie has no home (landlords don’t remember she exists, much less that she’s a tennant), no real possessions (its hard to have anything when you’re homeless and constantly traveling), no way of documenting her own story in any kind of permanence (how would anyone forget her if she had the ability to write something down or appear in photographs), no real relationships (can’t be in a relationship if they leave the room and re-enter not having the slightest clue who you are), but she endures in some rather crafty ways. She develops a profound appreciation for the arts and a deep sense of self, knowing what she wants and how to get it. She becomes a stronger protagonist than the free-spirited girl we begin the journey with.
This book is an ode to the ideas and art and love and loss and sacrificing yourself for the right thing. It’s also a cautionary tale of what can go wrong when you get what you wish for. Well-written and well-though-out, its a solid stand-alone novel. I’ve seen it marketed as both YA and New Adult, but it gives me more young adult vibes. It’s a fairly thought-provoking and deep, but its in a sort of lighthearted manner. It could’ve been darker and grittier and earned a more mature rating, but in my opinion, its firmly YA.
This is a wonderful book, I really enjoyed every moment. It made me giggle, it made me cry, it made me contemplate my existence.