Publisher's Note:  

On October 17, 2002, David MacLean “woke up” on a train platform in India with no idea who he was or why he was there. No money. No passport. No identity.


Taken to a mental hospital by the police, MacLean then started to hallucinate so severely he had to be tied down. Soon he could remember song lyrics, but not his family, his friends, or the woman he was told he loved. All of these symptoms, it turned out, were the result of the commonly prescribed malarial medication he had been taking. Upon his return to the States, he struggled to piece together the fragments of his former life in a harrowing, absurd, and unforgettable journey back to himself.


The Answer to the Riddle Is Me, drawn from David MacLean’s award-winning This American Life essay,is a deeply felt, closely researched, and intensely personal book. It asks every reader to confront the essential questions of our age: In our geographically and chemically fluid world, what makes me who I am? And how much can be stripped away before I become someone else entirely?

The Answer to the Riddle is Me: A Memoir of Amnesia

by David Stuart MacLean

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Overall Review:  

What would you do if you "woke up" and didn't know where you were? And to make matters worse, you don't know who you are, what food you like, what your name is...who you can trust. The Answer to The Riddle is Me is a well-written memoir of vulnerability and memory. It tells the account of one man and how he found himself in a foreign country, with no idea who he was or why he was in India. He had to trust the people around him to tell him what led up to his amnesiac state, and to help him form a new life from the pieces he can gather.


I don't often think about how much I trust people. As I was reading this book, however, I realized that every day we are taking risks. We trust that the car behind us will stop, instead of rear-ending us. We trust the doctor who just prescribed us with a new medicine, that he will not slip us something that will poison us. David Stuart MacLean was doing everything right...and one day he woke up to find he had forgotten everything about himself. One simple thing led to months, years of confusion and heartache. And even now he must wonder what happened during the time that he has forgotten. This book opened up lots of different thoughts in my head about who I am and what I would do if I found myself in a situation like David's. This is a very thought-provoking read that I would highly recommend.

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  7 mild obscenities; 2 derogatory names; 3 scatological words; 3 anatomical terms; 4 F-word derivatives


Violence/Gore:  A motorcycle crash is described along with the injuries sustained and some blood; an individual commits suicide; an innocent civilian is mentioned to have been beaten to death by a government official; suicide is mentioned several times, in conjunction with taking prescribed medication; an individual considers killing someone.


Sex/Nudity:  An affair is mentioned between two women; a man and woman have sex in one brief scene with no explicit detail; an unmarried couple sleeps together several times; sex is referred to several times; adults kiss.

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Adults drink frequently; adults smoke frequently.

Reviewed By Lydia
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