Monday, March 17, 2014
Book Review: THE IMPOSSIBLE KNIFE OF MEMORY by Laurie Halse Anderson
THE IMPOSSIBLE KNIFE OF MEMORY follows Hayley, whose father is an Iraq War vet suffering from PTSD. After years on the road trying to outrun the memories, her father has decided to settle back into their old hometown for Hayley's senior year of high school. Andy's anger, alcohol issues and flashbacks affect Hayley's everyday life, flipping the parent/child relationship on its head. She is the one pounding on his bedroom door to make sure he's alive. She makes excuses for him to the school guidance counselor attempting to contact him about Hayley's poor grades and attendance.
At the same time, Hayley is attempting to survive high school. Her best friend, Grace, always wants to talk about her parents' nasty split, and this guy named Finn tries to convince Hayley to write for the dying school newspaper. But Hayley keeps everyone at a distance. Taking care of her father, who can't seem to keep a job since arriving back in town, consumes all her energy.
I adored this book. Hayley's narrative voice is very military-style right from the first page, when she has to walk by two sketchy guys and mentally prepares fighting strategies in case they approach her. I believe her as a character; she's realistically written. Anderson also nailed Andy's PTSD. We even get a few snippets of his war memories in italics, which were beautifully written and equally horrifying. We also begin to think that Hayley might have a little PTSD of her own. The story really picks up at the end, and all these smaller pieces begin clicking together to paint a bigger picture of this father/daughter pair. They really pulled at my heartstrings as I read, and I still can't forget them.
Another thing I loved? Finn. He's quirky and adorable and a well-crafted love interest with a backstory of his own. His relationship with Hayley is realistic and rocky and cute, and I loved every minute of it.
I highly recommend this book. The issues dealt with are tough, but that's typical LHA. Fantastic writing, well-developed characters, and an ending that feels real. All the gold stars for THE IMPOSSIBLE KNIFE OF MEMORY!