Books, YA Fiction

The Impossible Knife Of Memory, by Laurie Halse Anderson



2 Stars

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? The Impossible Knife of Memory is Laurie Halse Anderson at her finest: compelling, surprising, and impossible to put down.

I didn’t expect The Impossible Knife Of Memory to be all that, but I thought I’d be able to feel some strong emotion, considering it’s about psychological affects of a bloody war. This book let me down, especially concerning the characters.

I haven’t read many books or seen many movies about PTSD, but I knew the basic premise of the condition prior to read the novel. I had my doubts concerning the accuracy of the portrayal of it, and I think there is a lot missing. One does not need to be an expert to realize that having PTSD does not only mean having mood swings, facing depression, and being constantly drunk. There were little descriptions of the war and the bloodshed along the way, but they didn’t really contribute to Andy’s character. I do applaud Anderson for trying though. It’s hard to write about a character facing such a situation when it’s not in their POV.

Characters in Young Adult Contemporaries can either be really layered and likable, or really annoying. But, this is one of the few times a character is perfectly in the middle. I think Anderson wanted to portray Hayley as a strong and pretty destructive girl, and I can understand that. I also liked her wit and cleverness to a certain extent. Unfortunately, her character was so forced and cringey most of the time. I didn’t get much from her besides her stereotypical teenage angsty and brooding attitude. It’s understandable that she is fighting demons of her own, but she’s just too unlikable. She’s usually always rebelling or spewing hate over the tiniest things, and I couldn’t emotionally relate to her consistently.

The romance is sweet, but it has no basis. Finn gets to know Hayley for approximately 10 seconds before he starts following her around, trying to get number, and pressuring her to random things for him. He has serious stalker issues, and needs to get help. After their relationship fell into place, I will admit that it’s very cute. There are many sweet moments and not-so-sweet moments highlighting the strengths and flaws in their relationship as well as their own. But, I do think this romance will be a miss for most, due to the lack of foundation behind it.

The Impossible Knife Of Memory is not a bad book, and I do think you can try it. But, if you were looking for an accurate description of PTSD and an emotional love story with a basis, I suggest you look the other way.