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Tuesday, July 07, 2015
The Impossible Knife Of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson. Melbourne:Text, 2014. A sort-of Review
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 town where he grew up so Hayley can go to a proper 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?
I have just finished reading this book, which I bought at Reading Matters Conference. It took me only a few hours ; I started it yesterday and finished just now, in between taking out my teenage niece and phoning a friend who needed cheering up. Fortunately, my niece is a fellow reader; after I'd bought her a copy of the latest James Dashner adventure, we went for afternoon tea and sat with our noses in our books until it was time to catch our bus. Just as well, because while I enjoyed our outing and her company, I had a hard time putting this book down.
I really must take my hat off to Ms Anderson, who can do both contemporary fiction for young adults and historical YA fiction, such as Chains and Forge. I don't read adult contemporary fiction, but YA is so much more readable!
And this one was. The girl's relationship with her father really brought home how it might feel to be the child of someone suffering post traumatic stress disorder. I have read that the author had a father who was suffering it after having seen the concentration camps at the end of World War II. (My own parents were camp survivors and while they didn't do any of the things described in this novel, it definitely affected their lives.) Hayley's father, a professional soldier, has been unable to hold down a job for long and has had nightmares after tours of duty in both Iran and Afghanistan; the author inserts a number of short scenes from the father's viewpoint to make this point. He and Hayley love each other, but the PTSD has made their lives difficult.
A word about Finn. Honestly, I wish there had been a Finn in my life when I was at school! He is not merely good looking, he's warm and funny and matches Hayley's intelligence, he respects her and, above all, is kindhearted. He's not perfect - and he has his own troubles. But he is there for her when she needs him and in return she tries to be there for him.
Despite the tragedies, there is plenty of humour. Finn and Hayley tell each other ridiculously exaggerated stories. Hayley's best friend Gracie describes Romeo and Juliet in a way that would havr made coffee explode from my nostrils if I'd been drinking any; I'll be sharing it with the English staff at my school, who will also enjoy it.
This book is going into my library for the students to enjoy.