Monday, January 13, 2014

Review: The Impossible Knife Of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

The Impossible Knife of MemoryTitle: The Impossible Knife of Memory 
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson 
Publisher:  Viking Juvenile
Publishing Date: January 7th 2014
Pages: 372
Genre:  YA Realistic Fiction
Series: Stand Alone
Source: Audio   


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.

I have only read one other Laurie Halse Anderson book, and though it was a good book, it didn't quite hit home with me. I have been wanting to to read more from her and decided this would be a great choice. I wasn't wrong. This book was pretty darn stupendous. The characters were raw, the story was addicting, horrifying, and captivating, and the writing was just beautiful. Loved it! 

Hayley is a broken girl. She was young when her father left for Iraq and her life has never been the same since. Her father came back damaged, she has lost her grandmother and her mother at an early age, her sort of stepmother was a mess, and she refuses to remember much of her past. Hayley and her father have recently made home in an old family house after a while of being on the road. Hayley, who has been home schooled for most of her life, has to start a new school, in a new town, as a senior. Something she is completely dreading. She didn't think her life could become any more complicated until she met a boy named Finn. Now she must deal with her father, damaged and seemingly breaking beyond repair, school, past memories, and a cute troublesome boy. This story is about breaking, losing, healing, and finding oneself. 

I think this book was just marvelous. Written very well, making the story real, believable, and enchanting. I was lost in the story from beginning to end. The beginning starts off slowly, bringing into focus the issues that found themselves home in Hayley's so called life. It was clear from the start that the book was going to be difficult to get through but the hard, knock down issues, were hiding out of sight until they made the perfect entrance. Hayley was clearly screwed up and had some things to deal with. Hayley's father was clearly screwed up and had issues to deal with. That was just the beginning. The issues escalated and desperation became clear. 

There aren't many books that really touch me the way this book did. I have read very few contemporary books about war, soldiers, and all they deal with. I try to stay away from this subject because its a difficult subject. This book was worth the read even though it was hard. I was angry. I felt anger, sorrow, sympathy, and understanding. In the end I did feel hope and I felt love. It was a well round book and didn't shy away from a roller coaster of emotions. 

The characters were difficult for me. They were written well, the character building was superb. I don't think I could of known Hayley, Finn, or Andy any better than by the end of the book. They were hard characters to deal with because of the issues that filled their lives. So I didn't love them all the time, but they did feel like family. Hayley was jaded, lost, and very insecure with her life. Of course I didn't expect her to be any different. She was basically taking care of herself and her father. Andy, her father was extremely broken, beyond anything but professional help. Because of the damage he suffered, physically and emotionally, he was unable to take care of his family and allow Hayley to have a proper childhood. This was hard for me, but again understandable. So even though it was all kinds of screwed up, it made sense. 

The boy, Finn. Not perfect but pretty awesome. He wasn't that boy that the girl fell for and all was good. Nope they had a hard time because both Finn and Hayley had unresolved issues. Finn said stupid things, did stupid things, and just all around acted stupid... but only sometimes. Most of the time he was gentle, understanding, and reliable. My favorite part.. he was a crazy smoking geek. Love that. 

So the story had lots of great stuff and lots of  tough subjects were addressed. Nothing was left  out. I loved the book. The only complaint I had and I don't understand is why there wasn't at least one family in the book that was messed up. Everyone in Hayley's life was screwed up one way or another. I would have liked to see one stable family. Other than that excellent read. 
I would recommend this book to everyone.  A very emotional ride but worth it!

Laurie Halse Anderson
Laurie Halse Anderson is the New York Times-bestselling author who writes for kids of all ages. Known for tackling tough subjects with humor and sensitivity, her work has earned numerous ALA and state awards. Two of her books, Speak and Chains, were National Book Award finalists.
Mother of four and wife of one, Laurie lives in Northern New York, where she likes to watch the snow fall as she writes. You can follow her adventures on Twitter, and on her tumblr
Check out Laurie's website,

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