Title: The Impossible Knife of Memory
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Rating: ★★★★ (4/5 Stars)
Hardcover, 391 Pages
Published January 2014
I'm going to start off by saying that when I picked up this book, I was expecting it to be an interesting and compelling one. I did not except literal, salty drops of water to drip down my face at the near-ending. (Yes, I will admit without shame that I cried.) This book caught me and dragged me in right away, and I followed it all of the way through 'till the end and I was satisfied with the ending, which is pretty significant since I haven't been satisfied with most of the books that I've been reading lately.
For those of you who don't already know, here's a description of The Impossible Knife of Memory:
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 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?
Let me start off by saying that I have a couple of members of my family who are in the military, so I instantly clicked with this book and wanted to read about how Hayley and her father dealt with his PTSD. Luckily, none of my family members have suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but I've still heard stories and learned a thing or two about it.
And to be entirely honest, reading about Hayley's dad and his suffering was incredibly difficult. There were times that I had to put the book down and take a break for awhile because the sadness and the despair was just becoming too much to handle. Even though it was hard, I feel that Anderson pulled it off perfectly. She truly tapped into the mind of a soldier and wrote the entire story from the point of view of a family member who had to sit by and watch it all happen helplessly.
And the near-ending. Oh gosh, the near-ending. ***THIS PARAGRAPH CONTAINS SPOILERS, so if you don't want the book spoiled for you, feel free to skip this paragraph and move along to the next one.*** For all of you that have already read the book, the part where Hayley comes home from school and notices the door is locked made my heart begin to race, and somehow I just knew. Actually, no--I got suspicious and felt that something was up earlier than that, when Andy insisted that he had letters to write and that's what he spent all of his time doing. I mean, come on, that's a MAJOR red flag! (Army pun? Anyone? No? Okay.) And then she goes on to find the letters and the photo album after school that one day, when she came home and the door was locked when it never was, and especially letters that are dated for future Christmases, and my heart just broke right then and there. I thought her father was already dead. Which meant I began to bawl like a baby.
I can't even explain why this book made me cry, because I've read suicide books and cancer books and books with dying and already dead parents and stuff like that never causes me to cry. Maybe it's Anderson's amazing writing style. Or maybe it's the fact that the book is based on a topic like the military, which is something that hits me close to home. But something tells me that isn't it, and that it's definitely Laurie Halse Anderson's ability to tug on your heartstrings and snap them clean off, because there are plenty of other people without military ties that said they cried exactly the same way.
Bottom line, I want to give Laurie Halse Anderson an enormous pat on the back for such a great book, one with the ability to shatter my heart and put it back together again all at once. She took a sensitive topic and wrote about it flawlessly, and I'm definitely going to be recommending this book to many, many people in the future.
Well that's all that I have to say for this review, besides the fact that wow, it feels so good to be able to write reviews again and start up this blog again! Hope you guys enjoyed my first review since I've been back, and there will be plenty more where this came from!