Tell Me Everything You Don’t Remember: The Stroke That Changed My Life by Christine Hyung-Oak Lee is a compelling memoir about the author’s reinvention after a life-changing stroke at the age of 33. Eloquently written, Lee guides readers through the trauma of her stroke while interweaving honest self-reflection during a period in which she was in many ways, not herself, through to her evolution as a writer and a newly defined sense of self.
It can happen with memoirs, that the events defining them are so out-of-the-ordinary (extra-ordinary if you will) that there’s an extra distance created between reader and writer. But Lee writes in a way that bridges this distance (a stroke at 33 is after all quite rare and unusual) to reflect on what made her who she was and how to adjust in the aftermath. It’s not a this happened then this happened then this happened kind of memoir, though those details are included, but rather a memoir that takes us on a journey through her thought process and her damaged and healing brain.
Tell Me Everything You Don’t Remember is about relationships and sense of self and belonging and expectations. It is not about suffering, but rather about growth. Lee is unflinchingly honest about the difficulties of her journey, moments where her behavior was unflattering, her recovery and her divorce, motherhood and postpartum depression. She allows us to see her flaws, but also her evolution, recovery, and reconfiguration of priorities that led to writing. And we can all be grateful for that.