Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Book Review: The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

The One Memory of Flora BanksTitle: The One Memory of Flora Banks
Author: Emily Barr
Series:  n/a
Pages:  302
Publisher: Penguin
Date of Publication: 12th January, 2017
Source: Bought
Synopsis from Goodreads: Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora's brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend's boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora's fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.

With little more than the words "be brave" inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must "be brave" if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.


My Thoughts:
I think that Emily Barr deals with the potentially tricky topic of what it's like to have amnesia really well. I have no idea how it feels, but despite the fact that the circles that Flora goes round and round in, trying to piece together what she's doing, do become slightly tedious due to their repetitiveness, they did give an interesting insight into her head. I feel like maybe everything she managed to do was unrealistic (like, her parents would definitely have noticed and stopped her, especially if they're as paranoid as they are surely?!), but in terms of what it's actually like to have amnesia, I imagine it was a realistic and honest representation.

The book gets slow in the middle, but then picks up again at the end as the plot twists are revealed.  I didn't see them coming, although perhaps in hindsight I should have? (But if you've been reading my blog for any length of time you'll probably have worked out that I'm actually terrible at predicting endings, haha.) Flora's an unreliable narrator and I guess that's half the challenge of the book, working out what's going on inside her head when you know she can't remember what you just read a few pages ago.

Now, I know that kissing a boy for the first time is a pretty momentous occasion, but it annoyed me that this was the one memory Flora could hold on to.  And I know that with amnesia of Flora's type the writing will be cyclical as she has to remember everything every few hours.  And I don't want to be rude because it must be awful, but it's quite tiresome having to read the words "I kissed Drake. I love him." every few pages.  (Especially when she can't remember anything about him but kissing him and so therefore how does she love him?) I dunno, I can see why this memory was chosen but half of me just wishes it was a memory that was slightly more interesting and didn't revolve around a boy (who also just isn't that great).

There were a few things that happen that didn't sit right with me at all, but I won't go into detail to avoid spoilers (feel free to comment/tweet me if you wanna know!). Also, I know her mum herself isn't well but I definitely did not like her or what she did to Flora, and I think maybe more time was needed at the end to sort out that whole issue. However, on the whole I guess I could appreciate the book as a finished package, and if you're interested you should definitely pick it up - and maybe you'll get on with it much better than I did.



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