Book Review: The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

impossible knife of memory

Hayley never had a normal childhood. When other girls had slumber parties and played soccer, she was trucking across the country with her dad. But it hasn’t just been the two of them; the memories and trauma her father faced in Iraq follows them everywhere. Finally, he decides to settle down in his hometown, and Hayley battles with leading a normal life with normal guys and normal friends, while juggling her father’s post traumatic stress disorder, and it seems to be getting worse.

I usually adore Laurie Halse Anderson’s books, but I wasn’t feeling this one as much. She’s almost like John Green: some of their books may not be your favorite, but they’re all good and well-written.

I had a lot of questions throughout the novel. I wanted to find out more about Finn (her adorable boyfriend) and her dad’s past. I felt like Finn and Hayley’s relationship had nothing to stand on. It seemed to me they hardly knew each other, because the reader doesn’t find out much about Finn’s life. And, by the end, they didn’t have any chemistry. After a couple skirmishes and tense moments, their whole relationship kind of fizzed out, but they were still together.

Every couple of chapters there’s an excerpt on her dad’s experiences in the war, but everything is very vague and poetic. I enjoyed reading them, but I wanted more flashbacks to feel closer to her dad, because I honestly didn’t like him a whole lot.

Otherwise, it’s good. Anderson is an established writer, and the reader can tell. Her novels are always sparked with metaphors and figurative language, and her dialogue and events are realistic. This book focuses on more complex issues and a network of problems rather than her usual direction of one fatal event or flaw in the character.

The Impossible Knife of Memory is a perfect contemporary novel filled with romance and high school drama with a more pressing problem hiding in the shadows of Hayley’s life. It makes you wonder the stories seemingly normal and carefree people have, and the secrets they’re keeping.

3.5 Stars

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