Monday, May 26, 2014

Book Bingo: The Impossible Knife of Memory

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson is the story of a girl used to being on the road with her dad. Hayley has to learn to adjust to life in a normal high school when her dad moves them back to the hometown she barely remembers. But it's not as easy as it sounds. As Hayley struggles with calculus and "zombie" teenagers, her father is struggling with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) from his time in the military, and her best friend is struggling with a broken family. As a tentative relationship begins to form between Hayley and the school newspaper editor, Finn, she must accept her past in order to face her future.

(picture taken from Goodreads;
cover design by Teresa Evangelista;
cover photo © Martin Stranka)

First Impression: I read a couple of other books by Laurie Halse Anderson when I was in high school: Speak and Catalyst. Anderson seems to have a gift for telling stories that everyone else forgets about. She places her characters in realistic, difficult situations and works through them in ways that could actually happen. Things don't fall into place as easily as they might in most YA novels, and I think that reflects the quality of her work. So far, The Impossible Knife of Memory has not disappointed me. PTSD is not a topic typically addressed in books for young adults, and by writing about it, Anderson is bringing a very relevant problem to light. Even though I am nothing like Hayley, I find myself feeling very attached to her, just by reading about what she deals with on a daily basis. Anderson's writing is at once beautiful and poignant, and I can't wait to see what happens.

Conclusion: The Impossible Knife of Memory was fantastic! The characters were very complex. I felt as though I could know Hayley, Finn, and Capt. Kincain (Andy) personally. It's so fascinating to read about Hayley's life and how she deals with school, her relationship with Finn, and her father's daily struggles. This book is not an easy one to absorb, but Anderson isn't known for tackling the easy topics. I read some reviews about this book on Goodreads while I was in the middle of it, and one of them in particular said they didn't like Anderson's portrayal of PTSD. (For those of you who don't know, the letters stand for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is self-explanatory. PTSD shows up in many different types of situations, but in this book, Hayley's dad suffers because of bad memories and inability to adapt after his multiple military deployments to Iraq, which is pretty common.) Honestly, the review made me laugh, because it said that PTSD doesn't manifest itself in the ways she describes. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder affects everyone differently, and I thought Anderson reflected Andy's pain in a very effective way. Also, there's a twist at the end of the book! I saw it coming but didn't know how it would resolve itself, and my admiration for the author continued to grow through the end of the book. The Impossible Knife of Memory is powerful, and it really touched me. I hope it means something special to the rest of you who take the time to read it.

This book is one of my "New Release" choices for the 2014 Book Bingo Challenge. Are any of you doing this challenge, too? Don't forget to subscribe for blog updates, and leave a comment to let me know what you thought of this book and what you're reading right now!


  1. Intriguing! I have a friend who suffers from PTSD, so that makes me particularly interested in this. Have to see if my library has it.

    1. Did they have it? I thought Anderson did such a great job, although it's a little painful to read (obviously).