Saturday, December 07, 2013
The Impossible Knife of Memory, Laurie Halse Anderson
From the Publisher: For the past five years, Hayley Kincaid 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.
Pros: This book is full of suspense and tragedy, but it's so well balanced, that you sometimes forget how precarious everything is for Hailey and her father, and you hope that Hailey can forget it for a few minutes at a time herself. LHA is a master of character development, I think that's what draws me into her work more than anything. I cared about these characters deeply and quickly. These characters became real to me, in part, I'm sure, because I know there really are Hayleys and Andys out there in the world, but also in large part because LHA crafts their characters through actions and inactions as well as she does through words. We need more books that play out the consequences of war and the hidden collateral damage done to families of many who survive.
Cons: I thought Finn's family issues were glossed over a bit and the story might have been a little better without that sideline because it didn't seem to move the story along much, just make Finn a little more empathetic. I think she could have done that in a different way and still had it be just as effective. I also wasn't impressed with the school in this story. I would hope that when it was so clear that there were issues in a home, a school would do more, but that's not really about the book itself, now is it. That's me in my Pollyanna glasses on my soapbox.
High school collections will definitely want to purchase this book.
I read an e-ARC of this book.