Book Review / The Impossible Knife of Memory

Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Year Published: 2014
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Length: 391 page

Synopsis:
Hayley Kincain is far from your typical high school senior. After being home schooled for five years as her dad worked as a semi-truck driver, she finds herself back in the halls of public high school. Throughout first, and last, year in high school Hayley juggles a father suffering from PTSD, trying to access her own memories from her childhood, figuring out the rules to dating, and not doing great at actually passing her classes. Hayley skirts on the brink of disaster in her life on a daily basis. Will she let the memories tear her way through and trust that she can recover? Or will the pressure of taking care of her dad become too much to handle?

My Thoughts:
I just have to start out with proclaiming my love for Laurie Halse Anderson. She is seriously the queen of YA. Anderson takes big issues and weaves them into incredible heart-wrenching tales of love, loss, and belonging.

The ways in which Anderson explained Andy and Hayley’s relationship was so realistic. She didn’t try to sugar coat their dynamic, but showed how complex it was. The constant turmoil Hayley went through of loving and wanting to help her father, but also wanting to just be a normal teenager for once felt was so genuine.

I also loved seeing the highs and lows Andy went through from Hayley’s perspective. This book was a very real exploration of a child living with a parent suffering from PTSD.

I can’t talk about this book without talking about Finn. Hayley and Finn’s relationship was precious, and just as complex as everything else in Hayley’s life. Again, Anderson succeeded in create genuine, realistic relationships between her characters. I think insta-love is all too common in YA. And sure, sometimes it works. But, it wouldn’t have for Finn and Hayley. The fact that Hayley had never really dealt with the realm of boys and relationships became very real in the way she approached her relationship with Finn right from the start. Seriously though, that date he tricked her into? Adorable. Also, the fact that Finn had his own emotional baggage was perfect for Hayley. Sure, they were kind of crap at communicating, but that’s pretty typical for a high school relationship. They definitely learned to be what the each other needed.

For me the sign of a good book is when it makes me emotional. If I am so attached to the lives of these characters that I can’t hold it together, that’s a good sign. This book did just that. I laughed, I cried, I swooned, and I yelled. The Impossible Knife of Memory was just as fantastic as any of Anderson’s other works.

June: The Month of Reading

June was the month of reading! I read more this month than I have read in a really long time and it was fantastic. The combination of ending the school year, only working a few days a week, and a few trips home made for the perfect reading month. Here’s what I read and a few brief thoughts!

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler: I really enjoyed this slightly goofy, mildly dark, and all together different tale of love lost. Handler has a way of writing characters impossible not to fall in love with. I wrote a full review on this one so check it out!

Feed by M.T Anderson: Feed took a route I wasn’t quite expecting it to take, but I liked it more than I thought it would. The love story interwoven with the social commentary on technology was well written and pulled me into the story.

Grace’s Guide: The Art of Pretending to be a Grown-Up by Grace Helbig: This quirky book is part self-help, part memoir, and 100% funny. Written by Youtube Personality Grace Helbig, Grace’s Guide was the perfect summer read.

A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin: I was not a fan of this one. A Really Awesome Mess follows two teens whose problems land them in a therapeutic boarding school. The characters were whiney. The plot was kind of weird and not that interesting. This book just didn’t keep me interested.

Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson: This is the last book I read in June. I finished this book eleven days ago and haven’t really read all that much since. I think I still have a massive post-book hangover from this one. Catalyst is definitely not easy to move on from. I loved everything about it from the characters to the plot to the writing. I even loved how much it broke my heart.

So that’s June for you. Hopefully July is just as productive! I just bought a couch for my porch, so I anticipate a lot of reading to happen there. How’s your summer reading going? Any summer recommendations?

Happy Reading,
Sam