Title: The Impossible Knife of Memory
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Genre: YA Drama
Source: school library
Pages: 391 (hardback)
Good Reads Synopsis
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.
“Yes it is, because you can only be brave if you’re scared.”
“You’re the one who doesn’t understand, I’ve been standing on the edge with you for years.”
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This was the first book we read for my book club at school, and when I first was old about it I didn’t think much of it because it was a drama and I’m more into action and adventure type books. Man, was I wrong. Yes, it’s a drama, but it’s so much more than that. It’s actually suspenseful for some parts and there’s romance, but not the mushy, somewhat-annoying kind. From the description, I knew it was going to be a deep, heavy book, but I didn’t understand quite how deep it would get. Laurie Anderson covered a lot of controversial topics in this story, such as drug addiction, alcoholism, PTSD, and child neglect. In no way can I relate to the main character, Hayley, because we live two completely different lives, but she still felt real and had so much depth. Overall, this was just an amazing book.
First, I’d like to point out my favorite thing about the story: the writing style. Laurie Halse Anderson has a gift, and I’m honestly jealous. Her word flow is GORGEOUS. Each sentence drifts into the next, making it so easy to read. I found myself reading faster than I ever have just because she made it so effortless. There were no pointless or confusing words and no “speed bump” words. There were some grammatical and spelling errors throughout the book, but no one’s perfect.
I also loved all the tension and drama she created for Hayley. That sounds awful because she goes through some really insane, horrible things, but wow, it didn’t go to waste. When authors show no mercy to their characters and just release every nightmarish things ever thought of on their characters, it’s so entertaining. Like, “oh, you’re running from a horde of demented zombies? Let me break your leg and turn your best friend against you. Then, I’ll throw you off a cliff into freezing, shark-infested water.” Nothing hooks people more than pain and distress, I mean really, who wants to read a book about someone who has a normal, untouched life? No one. Because that’s boring. Little kids don’t laugh at smiles, they laugh at people who fall over and break things.
In contrast to Indelible, which I did my last “What To Take Away From” on, the story of Hayley and her father is so real. For Indelible, I said that it was too unrealistic, far-fetched, and confusing. This book is on the complete other side of the spectrum. I would have thought I was reading an autobiography if I hadn’t known it was fiction. I don’t know how to describe how legitimate the story felt, so read it. Just read it and you will understand.
Finally, I really liked the character development and… reverse-development? Hayley watched her father slowly transform in front of her eyes, getting worse and worse all the time, and her friend’s lives falling to pieces around them. There were a few main-ish characters and I really liked how all of their stories and pasts played into Hayley’s and added to her own development, like her friend’s emotional disintegration helped to create the Hayley we see at the end of the book. Her characters were thought out very well and it sounds so awful, haha, I admire the way she destroyed them. It was done beautifully.