Title: The Impossible Knife of Memory
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Genre: YA contemporary
Length: 391 pages
Published by: Text Publishing
Source: borrowed from school library
For the past five years, Hayley Kincain and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own.
Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over? The Impossible Knife of Memory is Laurie Halse Anderson at her finest: compelling, surprising, and impossible to put down.
So my school library is awesome as usual, in allowing me to have this book two weeks past the due date. I REALLY wanted to read it because 1) Laurie Halse Anderson is kind of a big name and 2) it looked good. Plus, YA contemporary is cool.
Let’s start with the awesome things.
Awesome thing numero uno – our main character, Hayley, rocks. Other reviews will write about how snarky she is, and some people might not like that (it’s true she comes off as a bit abrasive) but I loved her! She’s witty in this really bitchy way, but also hilarious. The writing is easy to read and fast, and there’s plenty of stuff to break up the darkness of the topic matter.
Awesome thing numero duo (??) – sorry for my shocking counting. This is why I dropped maths. Anyway! Finn! Finn is great! He’s funny and he brings a lightness to Hayley’s snark. He’s basically adorkable. LESS awesome that he dropped out of it quite a bit towards the end, though.
Awesome thing numero three, I’m giving up with the other numbers – PTSD is not often dealt with in YA books. I’ll get to my complaints about it in a minute, but let’s just say that we need to talk about things like this. We can’t shove them under a rug. Talking about issues in YA books is a great way to get them talked about OUTSIDE of them, and PTSD is one of those things.
Not so awesome things (let’s change to dot points because I’m lazy):
– Changing of tone. It was a bit all over the place. It was like:
Well, okay, not so much angst as legitimate, awful problems. But I still would have liked more consistency.
– The pacing. It was a bit slow (and quite a long book for a contemporary). The short chapters broke this up a bit, though.
– The emotion just wasn’t there for me. I’m sure other people will bawl their eyes out, but I’m not a particularly bawl-your-eyes-out kind of person. I prefer to keep my eyes inside my head except when reading The Fault in Our Stars and watching the cute bits of How I Met Your Mother. It didn’t affect me as much as I wanted to, because it felt like the PTSD sections were from a distance.
– The flashbacks. They didn’t move the story forward, they weren’t explained well, I didn’t like them.
And back to the good bits for a second, because I forgot one.
The ending!!! Not the ending ending (it felt too resolved for my tastes) but right before that. I won’t give anything away but it was SO TENSE, and just…TENSION. SO MUCH OF IT. And that was my favourite part of the book, because everything came to a point where something had to happen. I was surprised about what actually DID happen, but my lips are sealed. You should read it and find out for yourself 🙂
Laurie Halse Anderson is a fantastic storyteller, and The Impossible Knife of Memory is a story that finishes on a knife-edge of family and hope and yesterdays. Definitely recommend.
Rating: 4/5 Wonderkitties (these Wonderkitties are different sizes in every review. Shows you how professional I am. Oh well)