Book Reviews

Review: The Impossible Knife of Memory

TIKOMTitle: The Impossible Knife of Memory
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary
Publication Info: Viking Juvenile, 2014
Age Recommendation: High School & Mature Middle School

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.

(Summary from Goodreads)

I love Laurie Halse Anderson’s books because of their willingness to take on difficult subjects unflinchingly, so I was looking forward to this one and finished it in a day. Aside from one small issue, I loved it.

What made this book so compelling was the characters. One thing Anderson excels at is making the reader care about her characters, and TIKoM was no exception. I spent the entire book aching for them and wanting them to all get help, especially Hayley because she took on way more than any eighteen-year-old should have to deal with.

Also playing a part in the story was the romance, which was really sweet. Finn was adorable and quirky, and I loved him, especially the fact that he wouldn’t run away to leave Hayley to deal with her problems on her own. Hayley really needed the emotional support, and Finn was able to be that without being a crutch.

I also loved how the setting played into the story. TIKoM takes place in a small town, and that was emphasized a lot throughout the book to draw a contrast to Hayley’s life up until that point. I think that did a lot to help drive the point home that Hayley has had a rather different upbringing, especially the past few years that she was on the road with her father.

My only real issue was with the ending, which wrapped things up a little too neatly for my liking. I would’ve preferred something a little more open-ended, like with Speak. I feel like PTSD is something too messy to be encompassed by the ending we were given.

If you’re a fan of Laurie Halse Anderson or of Corrine Jackson’s If I Lie, you’ll probably love The Impossible Knife of Memory.

Rating: 4/5 Stars


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