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Review: The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

Title: The Impossible Knife of Memory
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Year Published: 2014

Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 391
Rating: 5 out of 5

Location (my 2014 Google Reading map): USA (NY)

FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school library

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): For the past five years, Hayley Kincain and her father, Andy, have been on the road, trying to outrun the memories that haunt them both. They moved back to Andy's hometown to try a "normal" life, but the horrors he saw in the war threaten to destroy their lives. Hayley watches, helpless, as her father turns to drugs and alcohol to silence his demons. How do you keep your father alive when death is stalking him? What are you supposed to do when your parent stops acting like an adult? And what happens if a sweet guy who can make you laugh barges his way into your world and for the first time, you find yourself thinking about the future?

Review: Laurie Halse Anderson is incredible. She has done it again: written a book that sucks me in, makes me believe it's real, brings emotions to the front, and all with good writing.

I have read her other books: Winter Girls,  Twisted, Speak, Catalyst, and Fever 1793 (most of which I read before I was blogging) and have loved every single one of them. She has a way of creating characters and situations that are so real, so raw, that really make the stop and think about things. And even if the characters are nothing like me, I can relate to them and understand them. She also manages to write about really depressing things without depressing the reader.

Hayley is barely holding it together and it shows. She isn't good at pretending it's all okay, she isn't doing well in school, she isn't being a very good friend, and she really doesn't care. But I don't dislike her. She is like so many students who have all this crap at home and getting to school and doing well just isn't a priority. How do we help these kids? Luckily Hayley has people who care enough to push her along. What I liked is that none of them solves anything for Hayley, they just keep popping up in her life, checking in and carrying her along. Hayley has to figure things out for herself. Her dad certainly isn't going to make things better.

PTSD is at the heart of this book. Andy Kincain is a vet (probably of Iraq) who isn't doing well. Drugs and alcohol seem like solutions some of the time, but mostly things just aren't working for him. And he doesn't have a solution. I liked that he wasn't doing badly all the time. He'd hold it together, get a job, stay sober, then slip. Very realistic and such an important issue to bring out in the open in YA literature.

Overall this book is so well done. I highly recommend it to adults and teens.

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