Release Date: January 2nd, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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.
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.