Monday, March 17, 2014
The Impossible Knife of Memory - Laurie Halse Anderson
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Publisher: Viking (Penguin),014 (Hardcover)
Length: 391 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Realistic Fiction
Started: March 11, 2014
Finished: March 17, 2014
From the inside cover:
For the past five years, Hayley Kincain and her father, Andy, have been on the road, trying to outrun the memories that haunt them both. They moved back to Andy's hometown to try a "normal" life, but the horrors he saw in the war threaten to destroy their lives. Hayley watches, helpless, as her father turns to drugs and alcohol to silence his demons. And then her own past creeps up, and everything falls apart.
How do you keep your father alive when death is stalking him? What are you supposed to do when your parent stops acting like an adult? And what happens if a sweet guy who can make you laugh barges his way into your world and for the first time, you find yourself thinking about the future?
Timely, compelling, surprising - this is Laurie Halse Anderson at her finest.
I've read several books by this author and she is truly one of my favourites. I've read her gripping "hard issues" books like Speak, Wintergirls, and Twisted; as well as her historical fiction titles for middle grade readers, I will literally read anything this woman writes and am never disappointed. Luckily she hasn't proven me wrong with her newest book.
The Impossible Knife of Memory deals with memories of different sorts and how people process, live, and cope with the aftermath of them. Hayley is seventeen and has had a harder life than most. Her mom died when she was a baby, her grandmother who raised her afterwards died when she was seven, her pseudo-stepmother that raised her from age 7 to 12 ran out on her, and her father has developed PTSD after several tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. After five years of unschooling and living a nomadic lifestyle, Hayley and her father decide to return to his hometown to try to have a more normal existence. Hayley's memories are selective, while her father can't escape his, and both have poor coping mechanisms for dealing with them. Andy self-medicates with drugs and alcohol, Hayley turns caustic and doesn't entertain any possibilities of a future.
Since the foreshadowing is impossible to ignore, you know Something Bad will happen. Once it does though, it isn't nearly as huge and life-altering as I'd expected, the results I felt were kind of downplayed for a happy ending that isn't quite realistic. That was my only beef with the book, but being YA I know the endings are going to be more upbeat than if this were an adult novel on PTSD. I liked how even though Andy shows the classic signs of PTSD, you slowly realize Hayley has a form of it as well due to the instability and trauma from her having to be her father's caretaker. Hayley narrates with a great, sarcastic voice that draws you in and doesn't let go.
Another great novel by one of my favourite authors on an engaging subject matter.
Thoughts on the cover:
Different than the other books by this author, this one isn't as obvious to figure out.