Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Book Review: The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

Laurie Halse Anderson is one of my secret BFFs. I think I’ve played it cool during the THREE times that she and I have met face- to- face so, you know. Whatever. She attended The Rochester Teen Book Festival in May and that’s where I picked up this book.

I read it as part of the Make Me Read readathon challenge. Out of the 130 or so votes I got for my challenge, this book got picked as the one I should read first.

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.

Here’s what I thought about it all:

What I thought?!

That is basically all. But you probably want more. Ok. Here goes.

Hayley has been on the road with her truck driving father for many years, doing the home- school thing while traveling the country. Andy is her father, an Iraq veteran who struggles with some major demons. Worse, though, he’s doing the struggling alone. Andy’s memory is filled with the things he’s done, the things he’s seen, and the burden he feels that he places on his loved ones. Hayley’s memory is tricky, too, though and sometimes she remembers scenes that change the way she’s been thinking of her life story.

What’s to love about the book while you are laughing, crying, and throwing it at the fish tank?

The writing: Laurie Halse Anderson brings the feels. Hard. You are with Hayley on this journey to save her father and herself. As the reader, who is hopefully a little bit more able to see the big picture, you get to watch Andy and Hayley do stupid things for all the best, though not very well thought- out, reasons.

The relationships: Y’all. I cannot. Hayley and Finn. Hayley and her Father. Hayley and her ex-step-mother.

The truth: Trauma is ugly. And living with a family member affected by PTSD can be traumatizing, too. And loving someone who is affected by living with someone who is traumatized is hard work. There’s a scene with a giant axe/hammer thing. I almost pooped myself on Finn’s behalf. The other hard truth here: You can't make someone get better.

Look. I know this review is a little ramble-y. Let me boil it down: This book is about how our relationships are the only thing that will save us from the abyss.

I found this great fan sketch over at the reblog book club.

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