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.

Advertisements

The Beckoners

Hey book lovers,

I really like reading bully books. This might sound really weird, but bullying is just such an interest topic to me. I love getting a look into the brains of the tortured and their tortures (although most bully books are in the point of view of the bullied). These are usually the books that I don’t want to put down until I know every last detail. The Beckoners by Carrie Mac took the world of bullying to a whole new level.

The Beckoners is about sixteen year old Zoe whose slightly unstable mother moves her family around A LOT. With another move comes another new school. Zoe kind of falls into this vicious clique (or small gang, whichever you prefer) called, you guessed it, The Beckoners. Lead by the always brutal Beck, this group of high schoolers teeter on the fine line between bully and criminals. Zoe quickly realizes she does not want to live the life of a sixteen year old gang member. The need to get out is intensified by her growing friendship (?) with The Beckoners favorite viction, April (also known as Dog). However, once initiated into The Beckoners it’s not so easy to get out.

This book had me pacing and clenching my fist the whole time I read it. I am a big fan of a book that stresses me out (in a good way) while I read it. If I am so invested in a book that I don’t even want to sit down then it’s a good one.

I have never read characters as crazy as Beck and her followers. I had to keep reminding myself that these are 16 YEAR OLD GIRLS. What? That’s insane. I have never in my life met a 16 year old girl as intense and terrifying as Beck. Maybe I just grew up in a nice little happy bubble with nice bullies? No, I just think these girls are psychotic. That being said, they were so interesting to read! Also, Zoe was a great main character. Mac really captured the thoughts of a girl who is used to moving. A girl trying to muddle through high school and the dilemma of which side of the line was better to be on: the victims or the bullies. Mac shows that not everything is as black and white as it may seem. We get to see Zoe’s whole thought process. Zoe had to learn who she really was and what she wanted to stand for. Although, Zoe does have a little life in the Beckoners I think she is a great role model.

The plot of this story was great. There was never a dull moment. Like I said, I was literally pacing while reading parts of this book. The books opens with an introduction to Beck and Dog before launching into Zoe’s story. And it’s probably one of the nicer things she does to Dog in the whole book. It’s a great introduction to just how crazy the book gets.

I give The Beckoners by Carrie Mac 4 out of 5 stars. I would highly recommend this book. If you’ve read this book let me know what you thought. I would love to hear your opinions!

Happy Reading,
Sam