Eva Lesko Natiello

The Memory Box

by Eva Lesko Natiello

The gossipmonger moms in upscale Farhaven, NJ, Google everyone they know and compare hits. Caroline Thompson, at-home mom of eight-year-olds, becomes their laughingstock−her name appears only three times. Caroline avoids their pettiness−shrugs it off. Then realizes something they don’t know: her maiden name. She Googles Caroline Spencer and the hits cascade like a tsunami. There’s one problem: Caroline reads disturbing, unspeakable things about her past but doesn’t remember any of it. How’s that possible? Her eyes inadvertently lock onto an obituary. For her sister. But JD’s not dead. Caroline just spoke to her. Recently. Didn’t she?

Probing for clarity reveals darker truths. Could someone be one step ahead of her? Caroline’s paranoia ousts common sense. She can’t confide in anyone, lest she lose everything.

Caroline contacts Dr. Sullivan, the gentle psychologist who once counseled her. He agrees to play old taped transcripts of their sessions, warning they may be unsettling.

When Caroline pieces together the shocking clues, she must decide her fate.
The impetus for The Memory Box, a psychological suspense, came from a New York Times article about a California teen who, by Googling himself, learned he was a victim of parental abduction.

Be careful what you search for.

Arielle: Love, love, love the idea for this book. So of-the-moment. And I get a nice feel for your voice. There is a bit of a disconnect for me between the first few sentences and the rest of the pitch. Like a previous pitch, the voice starts off feeling very women’s fiction-y, and then takes a turn into a psychological thriller. I would think about how to set this up from the beginning with an ominous tone. The last sentence is terrific! A great read line for the book.

David: This is a championship caliber idea. I love how you’ve taken something so new and yet prevalent, self-Googling (sounds slightly rude doesn’t it?), and made it the center of your suspenseful and psychological story. I love the title. The Memory Box. I also think it’s fun that you put in the real-life impetus for the story. Usually I don’t like that. Who cares where the idea came from? But this intrigued me, and demonstrated its social relevance. I also love the tagline at the end. Be careful what you search for. But some of it still feels very generic. “Probing for clarity reveals darker truths.” That’s so unspecific. Of course, you don’t want to reveal too much in a story like this. But a couple of word pictures would be very helpful here, and go along way toward further establishing your bona fide as a writer. And there’s something awkward about this sentence: “Then realizes something they don’t know: her maiden name.” It’s not like she didn’t realize she had a maiden name. She always knew her own maiden name. I know what you mean, it’s just awkwardly written. But I really love this story. The way you use repressed memory and Google. Quite brilliant.