Just keep swimming. A memorable motto from a forgetful fish. 🐠

While this phrase may be well-known, few are familiar with the realities of anterograde amnesia, the short-term memory loss disorder that our adorable Dory portrays. Due to the rare nature of this disorder, it is often employed as a glamorized science-fiction plot with a lack of experiences relatable to people struggling with amnesia and similar memory loss disorders. However, amnesia is not a disorder that often gets an entire recovery right at the most convenient plot point.

I was diagnosed with anterograde amnesia several years ago. As a person in love with reading, I am disheartened to read stories that deal with memory loss plots, especially in the young adult fantasy/science-fiction genre, where they are so popular. It became challenging to relate to the characters who would lose their memory and entire identity only to regain it just a few scenes later in the story with no real consequences. 

To remedy the inaccurate representation of amnesia that I was seeing so much of in the genre, I decided to compile a list of some truly amazing series that show the many complex layers of amnesia. These beautiful stories show the hardships of dealing with such a rare disorder while celebrating these brilliant characters’ resilience and strength.

 So, even if your memory is just as flawed as mine, these stories will surely be memorable. 💙

3 Memorable Young Adult Series with Memory Loss Representation

1. Once Upon a Broken Heart Series by Stephanie Garber

How far would you go for happily ever after?

For as long as she can remember, Evangeline Fox has believed in true love and happy endings until she learns that the love of her life will marry another.

Desperate to stop the wedding and to heal her wounded heart, Evangeline strikes a deal with the charismatic but wicked Prince of Hearts. In exchange for his help, he asks for three kisses at the time and place of his choosing. 🤭

But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that bargaining with an immortal is a dangerous game – and that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she’d pledged. He has plans for Evangeline, ending in the greatest happily ever after or the most exquisite tragedy.

This trilogy is truly a celebration of fairytale magic! ✨

From the enchanting setting to the complex character growth, any reader will fall in love with this series. The powerful portrayal of anterograde amnesia made these books especially magical for me. 

The character affected by this disorder never questioned her identity or her actions. In many books or films dealing with amnesia or short-term memory loss, the characters naturally redesign their identity and perform actions that are not in line with their own beliefs or emotions. This series allows our character to maintain her identity and defend her actions even without a clear memory. Even though she could not clearly remember her past, she stood by her identity and felt secure in the understanding that she still extended her past actions from her same sense of self. 🥹

Another heartfelt detail of this series in displaying anterograde amnesia was the treatment given to other characters. Our society often associates memory with intelligence. People who recall information are viewed as the “geniuses” of our world, while people who struggle to memorize basic facts are often labeled as dim-witted. However, the capability of memory has no bearing on a person’s intellect. The way others interact with our character without memory is a perfect example of this fact. She is treated with equal respect as everyone else, and her ideas have value at the same level. The characters provided her extra assistance as she requested but never assumed that she could do anything on her own.

Her memories were not gone forever, they were merely lost.”

Stephanie Garber, A Curse for True Love

This book is the perfect recommendation for anyone wanting to experience a strong cast of characters overcoming the struggles of amnesia through perseverance, courage, and a touch of magic! ✨

2. Shatter Me Series by Tahereh Mafi

One touch is all it takes. One touch and Juliette Ferrars can leave a fully grown man gasping for air. One touch, and she can kill. 🫢

No one knows why Juliette has such incredible power. It feels like a curse, a burden that a person alone could never bear. But The Reestablishment sees it as a gift, sees her as an opportunity. An opportunity for a deadly weapon.

Juliette has never fought for herself before, only before she’s reunited with the one person who ever cared about her. Then, she finds strength that she never knew she had.

A series for anyone who appreciates profound character growth and unique writing styles, the Shatter Me Series details the journey through healing from memory loss in its later books. It deals with the consequences of amnesia as well as the struggles of the disorder itself.

Through our character’s perspective, we are given first-hand experience from the brain of someone with amnesia. Mafi weaves past quotes from previous books into our character’s thoughts, which creates a natural déjà-vu during reading. There is recognition of having seen the phrases but being unable to place them properly, which is the exact experience of amnesia familiar to me. Although there may be an awareness of having glimpses of memories for people with amnesia, there may not be the proper recognition occurring in the brain to identify the context of the memory. This series is exceptional because Mafi mimics this occurrence for every reader, so anyone can relate to the character struggling with memory loss and consider the real-world connections to amnesia symptoms. 

“I feel as though my history is being rewritten, infinite paragraphs scratched out, and hastily revised. Old and new images – memories – layer atop each other until the ink runs, rupturing the scenes into something new, something incomprehensible.”

Tahereh Mafi, Imagine Me

This series also distinguishes between emotional and event memory (or episodic memory). As these terms suggest, emotional memory involves memories rooted in emotion and can be triggered differently than event memory, which includes moments based on physical scenes. 

Like many people with amnesia, our character has a stronger emotional memory recall than event memory recall. She maintains emotional reactions to people and events without remembering the reasoning behind experiencing those emotions. This distinction is rarely represented in media, so it was special to see the contrast between these types of memories similar to real-life symptoms of amnesia.

Another impressive strength this series displays in portraying memory loss is the sporadic nature of recovering memories. Although some people with amnesia can recover their memories in a single moment, this occurrence is rare. For many, memories come back slowly and randomly. The nature of memory recovery in this series feels uniquely authentic. It never feels as though the plot is driving the disorder, which results in an authentic portrayal of memory recovery that feels truthful and not fabricated simply for the sake of the story. 😌

This series is a must-read for anyone ready to fall in love and grow side-by-side with an inspiring cast of characters who overcome various challenges to achieve their dreams.

3. Letters of Enchantment Series by Rebecca Ross

When two young rival journalists find love through a magical connection, they must face the depths of hell, in a war among gods, to seal their fate forever. 🫣

After centuries of sleep, the gods are warring again. But eighteen-year-old Iris Winnow just wants to hold her family together. Her mother has an addiction, and her brother is missing from the front lines. Her best bet is to win the columnist promotion at the Oath Gazette.

To combat her worries, Iris writes letters to her brother and slips them beneath her wardrobe door, where they vanish – into the hands of Roman Kitt, her cold and handsome rival at the paper. When he anonymously writes Iris back, they forge a connection that will follow Iris to the front lines of battle: for her brother, the fate of humankind, and love. 💙

It was only a book, but it felt far more than leather and paper and ink. It felt like something to tether her in the coming days, something to protect her as well as encourage her to keep going.

Rebecca Ross, Ruthless Vows

A duology written as a tribute to journalism and the act of writing. 

The story focuses on how words and stories impact individuals and the world. This series fits perfectly with this list because words can be transformative in the healing process, even in the rarest of experiences. 😌

Like the previous series on this list, the character affected by memory loss retains their sense of self. They can have confidence in their skills and instincts even when they may not remember obtaining them. I love this series because it highlights the resilience of people with amnesia. Instead of forfeiting understanding of situations, our character relies on other skills – such as heightened perception, observation, and deduction – to compensate for the lack of context that comes with memories. This character treatment spotlights the triumphs of a mind without memory instead of highlighting only the shortcomings. 

If you want to be inspired by the human spirit in its battle against all enemies—physical and mental, then this is a book series for you! 

So, whether you’re reading to forget about the realities of the real world or you’re already forgetful enough as it is, these book series are the perfect stories to experience uplifting tales of healing from amnesia.

This article was written by our Bookly Pro Reader, Adilyn💙 

Before heading to your favorite YA read, here are other recommendations!

Looking for new additions to your YA collection? Check out this list of the best young adult fantasy books! Or, if you prefer mystery with a good spooky twist, these 10 young adult mystery books are just what you need! ⭐

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  1. I also have been diagnosed with anteretrograde amnesia so it was nice to see list calling out all of the books who get it wrong. Thank you for seeing me and remember you’re not alone. Hope things are better for you!

    • gabrielle Reply

      We’re so happy to hear you enjoyed it, thank you so much for reaching out here! Happy reading! 💙

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