Title: The Impossible Knife of Memory
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Publication Date: January 2014
Rating: 4 stars
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.
Let me start by saying how I got the book. I honestly lucked into it. I was at the PLA (Public Library Association) conference, in the exhibit hall. I knew Laurie Halse Anderson was going to be there between the brochure and the fact that she tweeted about it. I did not, however, know that the line to meet her and get a book signed included a book... free of charge. Plus, I got to meet her. And I love her books, so I was super excited.
Anyway. All that aside. I was really looking forward to reading this one. And it didn't disappoint. I realize the lack of a fifth star might make it seem otherwise. But that has nothing to do with the writing or the characters. I think, mostly, I wasn't left as emotionally wrung out by it as I wanted to be. So I think it really boils down to my highest of high expectations. Not that I didn't like the way things went. And it's not like I *wanted* tragedy, etc etc... I just wanted more feels, I guess? Hard to explain.
But. I loved Hayley. I loved that she wasn't a reliable person; you never knew how she was going to react to something. And we get so much information, in snippets, about her past, her father, her life. And her father. I'll admit, I've never had any experience in my life with PTSD, but from what I *do* know about it, it seems like Halse really did her research. And I felt like I was there, right alongside Hayley, for all the ups and downs of the entire story. I felt the struggle between love, fear, and caring that Hayley had within her.
The supporting characters of Gracie and Topher nearly seemed unnecessary by the end of the story. I think, while it was good to see that Hayley could, in fact, be a fairly normal teenager with Gracie, they didn't really do much for the story. But Finn, on the other hand. He was pretty awesome in his own imperfect ways. And I think Trish served her purpose well as not only bringing background to the story, but giving light to a possible future as well.
I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is already a fan of LHA, as well as anyone who likes contemporary fiction, especially with a side of heavy topics. Halse handles both superbly.
Want to read it? Have you read it? What'd you think?