Review: The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

February 4, 2014 Review 46 ★★★★

Review: The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson
(Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository)

Publisher: Viking
Source: Purchased
Pages: 372
Release Date: January 2nd, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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For the past five years, Hayley Kincaid 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.

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THE IMPOSSIBLE KNIFE OF MEMORY was a very different book to what I’d normally read. I’d never read anything by Laurie Halse Anderson before, nor anything about PTSD even if I’d heard the term every now and then. One of the reasons I wanted to read it was amazing reviews, and also it was the pick for Reblog Book Club (which had previously chosen FANGIRL, a novel that earned a spot on my all time favoutites list) and I must say I’m very glad I picked this up.

The writing in IMPOSSIBLE KNIFE (as it shall now be known because I’m too lazy to type out the title every time) is brilliant. There’s so many quoteworthy moments and Hayley is a great MC and narrator. She’s snarky and hilarious and was so much fun to read about. She was likeable, more or less. There were moments when she frustrated me, when she’d be angry/overreact to small things, or run away from feelings and problems and I just wanted her to turn around and face them (but that was part of her monumental growth).

Hayley’s life is a painful one and there’s not many good things in it. So IMPOSSIBLE KNIFE is packed with FEELS. Not enough that it made me cry though (surprisingly. I was sure it’d make me sob). The main cause of her problems is her father, Andy, and the ways in which he deals with his PTSD. He’s not the healthiest of humans and can be confusing… Andy had so many faces and you never knew which one he’d show at any one time. He’d start to improve then suddenly regress and it was so heartbreaing to read about.

Andy and Hayley weren’t the only characters with issues. The secondary characters were well developed as well, each with their own dark issues and habits. Many resort to substance abuse (alcoholic, drugs, and prescription medicine) to deal with problems they’d like to pretend didn’t exist. I wish we’d seen more of these characters. It would have been nice to see them overcome their own issues and grow as much as Hayley did.

One of the few good things in Hayley’s life was Finn, the love interest. He was hilarious and nice and just a pleasant guy. He had his own family problems but they weren’t as prominent problems as Hayley’s. Their romance was slow(ish) and a side development, not too important in the grand scheme of things, and was filled with lots of ups and downs. So awkward at first, but wonderful once they got over fears and learnt to connect properly.

I think my only real problem with IMPOSSIBLE KNIFE is that it felt too short. I wanted to see the characters recover. I wanted to see how the coped with everything, how the good that comes into their life changes things (hopefully for the better, they deserve it) and what other road blocks they had to deal with on the road to recovery. All we got however was a chapter or two that sort of explained what happened after, no conclusive details and examples fleshed out in full scenes.

THE IMPOSSIBLE KNIFE OF MEMORY was a good introduction to the horror that is PTSD and really shows how much it can effect families. All the characters were deeper then expected with very real issues and I wish this book was another hundred pages so I could see the characters completely overcome their issues and find themselves in a place that is good.

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Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Romance
Overall: 4.2

46 Responses to “Review: The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson”

  1. Mel@thedailyprophecy

    Sounds interesting. I like snarky MC’s, so that is promising. It’s a shame that the story felt too short, because I like it when it ends more satisfying. I might give this one a shot, I do like quotable writing-styles :)
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…My blogging methods.

    • Bec

      Snarky MCs are always entertaining XD It felt short because I just wanted to see more happy things, the characters certainly deserved more.

      I hope you enjoy it if you do read it :)

  2. Allie @ Little Birdie

    This sounds completely different to anything I’ve read before – PTSD is not something I find is explored enough in YA (or literature in general) and it’s something I’m really curious to read about. Laurie seems to have handled it brilliantly and brought a lot of depth and emotion to the stories and the characters :D

    • Bec

      It’s pretty unique! After this I read one NA with PTSD, and I think it’s a topic that might be becoming more common in books (or it’s in them but it’s just not named as PTSD). Impossible Knife was done really well.

    • Bec

      It definitely tugs on those heart strings… Snarky MCc definitely help lighten it, though sometimes it makes the book even sadder. Same goes for the math pun loving, hilarious love interest.

    • Bec

      It was refreshing to read something so new to me. And an interesting choice of perspective, yeah. I think that made it more painful (to see the effect it had on the people he loved).

      Finn was fantastic!

    • Bec

      My thoughts on feels are the same as on cliffhangers. They’re painful to read but also great for the emotions they can bring out of you.

      Thanks!

  3. Adriana @ BooksOnHerMind

    First of all I love your review of this book. I’ve read two Laurie Halse Anderson books before and she likes to write about the heavy stuff in life. I initially didn’t like that this book was about PTSD but your review has me seriously considering reading it. I love the growth of the characters and although you didn’t get to read about their lives after everything happened this still sounds fantastic. Lovely review (:
    Adriana @ BooksOnHerMind recently posted…January 2014 Wrap-Up

    • Bec

      Thank you!

      She does like to tackle the heavy topics, but it seems like she does it well. This is not so much about PTSD as about the effect it can have on those you love and your lies, and the focus is very much Hayley and her story.

  4. Cait

    I really liked this book. :) I just finished reading it…and then read The Killing Woods straight after. So it was like a whole bunch of PTSD at once. Which was interesting (and maybe a bit overwhelming…heh). I actually liked how short the book was (short books FTW), but I felt I would have liked to know more about Finn. He was pretty awesome, but he did fade out there for a bit.
    Cait recently posted…Cress (by Marissa Meyer) Is Beyond Brilliant + GIVEAWAY

    • Bec

      ahaha, I finished it then a little while late picked up Ten Tiny Breaths so I experienced a similar thing. Finn did get pushed to the side in the middle, and I wished we got to know more about him. Gracie too. They had issues in their own lives that I feel were left unresolved (I have a need for closure)

    • Bec

      I don’t have any personal experience or anything with PTSD so I can’t tell you if it was realistic, but reading the authors Q&As it sound like it was something she encountered & dealt with in her own life.

      Fluffy can be good! If you do end up picking it up I hope you like it :)

  5. Chantelle

    Sounds really interesting, I haven’t read a book quite like this, seems a bit out of my comfort zone, but I love books that make me feel and think, which this one sounds like it does. I also have a good track record with books that have love interests called Finn haha Great review :)
    Chantelle recently posted…Discussion: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

    • Bec

      Books that make you think are always amazing, even if they don’t necessarily get 5 stars from me. It is a good book for stepping out of your comfort zone with.

      bahaha, there is just something about that name XD

      Thanks!

    • Bec

      It’s pretty sad!

      Oh, the texting. One of the characters has terrible vocab and spelling and everything in their texts and it was kind of annoying (I know no one who texts like she did) It’s just one character that does it though, I think…

  6. Tanja

    Laurie is such an amazing writer. I loved some of her books and I love how realistic her stories are. I’m so glad you decided to pick this one and more than that I’m so happy you loved it. Great review :)
    Tanja recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday (#81)

  7. Stephanie (Hopeless Romantics)

    I love a funny MC and Finn sounds like a great love interest. The romance, even if it is slow, seems promising. I don’t like sad books, so I guess I’m glad you didn’t cry haha. Bummer that the ending seemed too short. I love it when a book is wrapped up nicely =) Thanks for the review!
    Stephanie (Hopeless Romantics) recently posted…Review: Unhinged

    • Bec

      No worries!

      Finn was fantastic and the romance was pretty good! (though the characters were really stupid at times and that created issues). I’d give anything to have the ending be a little longer and wrap up more stuff, but the ending it has is probably more realistic.

  8. Ebony

    I’m really excited to read this book! I’ve only read Wintergirls so far from this author, which was amazing. I’ve heard great things about her other books also.

    • Bec

      I wish I had my quote book before I started this. I could have filled a few pages… Hayley was so wise and funny and annoying and I really loved her.

      Thanks!

  9. Aimee

    I’ve seen a few mixed reviews on this one, but I’m glad you enjoyed it! I haven’t read anything by this author, either, which is really a shame since I’ve heard good things about her works. :) I really want to give this one a shot.:)
    Aimee recently posted…Mini Review: Fates by Lanie Bross

    • Bec

      Really? I don’t think I’ve seen a completely negative one yet.

      This is probably a good place to start with Anderson’s stuff (I say this because I haven’t read any of her other books so can’t tell you which is the best one to begin with)

  10. Aman

    I’ve read a few PTSD focused book and I know how emotional they can get. Even reading about those situations breaks your apart and definitely leave a very last effect. I’m glad you tried this book, I’ve been meaning to read it since it came out. Now I’ve to make some time for it. Great review, Bec :)
    Aman recently posted…Early Review: Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott

    • Bec

      They could get very very emotional. PTSD is not something I’d wish on anyone, it sounds like such a terrible thing to experience.

      Thanks

    • Bec

      It’s always great when a book pulls you out of a reading slump! I read this slower than I wanted to because I was taking notes, and it was so hard to stop reading this.

      Thanks :)

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