Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Blurb: 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.
Me: Oh, the perks of an amazing realistic fiction book. They always make me feel so enthralled.
The Ups: There was a very gritty, real feeling to this book. First of all, I really liked the main character, Hayley. I've heard a lot of controversy over whether she was a very realistic character or just a drab, uninteresting one. I personally thought that she was very relatable. There was something about her character that made me really dislike her in the beginning, but she came to grow on me, and I ended up loving her. It was really interesting to make that journey to get to know the protagonist as a reader and experience what getting to know her was like.
I really enjoyed the pure honest rawness of the characters. At occasional times, it irked me, I'll admit, but most of the time I was captivated by the characters and their tragic yet uplifting lives. Hayley refused to acknowledge much of her past, lost her mother and grandmother at young age, and now had to basically take care of her father. Andy woke up from nightmares most nights and was trying to pretend like everything was okay, when it wasn't. There were points when I hated some of these characters, but that was okay. They still felt incredibly close to me.
The book left me with a feeling of conclusion, and it was a very interesting emotion. There wasn't a special uplifting, inspirational part to the story, nor a super tragic heart-breaking ending. The journey for the characters ended and I was just left with the feeling that I knew the characters' lives would have many problems, but they would end up all right.
The Downs: I just got so annoyed with the way Hayley described her fellow peers. A small factor, I know, especially with a book of this massive content, but it ticked me off that she saw everyone as either a "zombie" or a "freak". First of all, her explanation of why she felt that way was illogical and stupid, and when she talked about her peers like that, it felt like she thought she deserved much better and that she didn't qualify into those categories.
Other people seemed to have a problem with the PTSD being described as too stereotypically and unrealistically, but having no experience with such things, I found it to be fine.
Overall: An enthralling, gritty story about a girl's struggle to find her own self while trying to care for others.
Rating: 4...and a half kisses!