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TOP 100 REVIEWERon February 19, 2013
Jill Price, with the help of coauthor Bart Davis, tells the story of her life with "hyperthymestic syndrome." She has unusually vivid and complete autobiographical memories, a mixed blessing as she explains at length.

The book tells three inter-related stories. Readers learn in passing what research has to say about both normal cognitive processes and the unusual abilities Jill possesses. We also learn about Jill's life and the impact her memory has on her and her friends and family. The view of memory presented in the book is accessible and an accurate account of what most cognitive scientists believe about human abilities. This embedded tutorial makes the book useful and interesting to psychology students learning about memory. When it comes to the specifics of Jill's own condition, readers are cautioned to remember that she tells it from an autobiographical rather than clinical perspective. More professionally-focused accounts of her case are available--some by internet search.

The story of Jill's life is not terribly interesting as autobiography. But it does provide a backdrop for the more interesting accounts of her memory's impact on her and others. One can imagine the lessons in tact learned by a little girl who is able to correct her parents' recollections. Her descriptions of how she visualizes calendars and timelines are fascinating--and clearly not how the rest of us remember. Most striking are her revelations about the role emotions play in her memories. She continues to feel strong emotions from childhood disappointments and adult traumas that have been softened by time for the rest of us.

This book captures well the advantages and human cost of near-perfect memory--something many of us would like to have. It is recommended as a cautionary tale about the costs of what we wish for. Readers may also enjoy Luria's The Mind of a Mnemonist: A Little Book about a Vast Memory, which also chronicles the life of someone with a near-perfect memory--and troubling side effects.
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on July 12, 2009
Wow, what an interesting condition to have! As you read, you begin to sense, at times, what it must be like to live with hyperthymestic syndrome (aka steal trap memory ;-)). Still, I wonder how much objectivity she has over her memory. She suggests she does, but I remain skeptical.

The book is rather repetitive at times. I found myself saying "I get it, already!" though I wonder if anyone really can appreciate how it is to live life in her shoes. I was, however, hoping for a more clinical approach to her story, I guess. Something a little more (academically) insightful. I enjoyed most the passages where she is talking about her memory in reference to the 'norm'; how the experts classify or explain her situation. I would have liked to learn more about the gamut of tests she has to take and what they were measuring/comparing and how it all worked.

Yet for these downfalls, still, if you persevere her life story is rather touching at the end; when she finds love.

I'm not a big biography/memoir person, but this is a fast read about a regular person with an unique condition as she makes her way through life the best she can.

I enjoyed the book, but wouldn't put it on any top 10 lists.
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