Monday, 28 November 2016

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

Title: The One Memory of Flora Banks
Author: Emily Barr
Published by: Penguin Random House UK
Publication date: 5th January 2017
Pages: 306
Genres: Young Adult/Contemporary/Disability
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

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.

Earlier this year you might remember I went along to the Penguin Random House UK offices to hear about their 2016 releases - and, included, was one very special 2017 release. That book was called The One Memory of Flora Banks and, having enjoyed one of the author's adult novels before, I was very much looking forward to her foray into YA. Needless to say, there was no way I could wait until nearer publication to read the early copy I found in my goody bag, so this review has been a long time coming!

Who is Flora Banks, I hear you ask? Flora is the rather wonderful protagonist of this story, and she can only remember things from the first 11 years of her life. Now 17, she only has new memories for a couple of hours before they slip away again as if they never happened. Her life consists of constantly writing things down on her arms and on sticky notes, and she will live in Penzance with her parents, no independence and the occasional thought that she is ten, not seventeen, forever. But when Flora's brother in Paris becomes extremely ill, her parents need to stay with him. For once, Flora is on her own - and this is her story.

Due to Flora's memory, certain things had to be repeated throughout the book. I can't deny that it added authenticity and made Flora's anterograde amnesia even more believable, but it could be a bit much sometimes. However, The One Memory of Flora Banks is completely brilliant and spectacularly done. Having never read about anterograde amnesia or even heard of it, Flora and her zest for life made me think about things I'd never even considered; just thinking about how Barr wrote this and kept track of everything makes my brain ache, never mind people who actually have anterograde amnesia and live every day with ink stains on their fingers, sticky notes everywhere and only a few lingering memories. Highly original and thought provoking, I'll be singing this book's praises for months to come. This is definitely one book you won't be able to stop thinking about in 2017.

1 comment :

  1. Wow!! I sooooo want to read this now. On my Xmas list hehe