The Impossible Knife of Memory

by Laurie Halse Anderson
First sentence: “It started in detention.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Review copy snagged off the ARC shelves at my place of employment.
Content: There’s a fair amount of swearing, but no f-bombs (I’m pretty sure, anyway), and some violence (some of domestic) and drinking and drug use, some of which involve teens. For that reason, it’s in the teen (grades 9-12) section of the bookstore.

Part of me wants to get off doing the easy thing here and say, “It’s Laurie Halse Anderson’s newest book. OF COURSE YOU SHOULD READ IT.”

Because, really? That’s all you NEED to know.

But, I suppose, you would like to know the plot?  Okay…. Hayley, 17, returns to school after being on the road with her rig-driving, veteran father for the past five years. The reason they move back to his home town is that he can’t seem to keep a job anymore. And that seems to be the case, now. Her father (who had several tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan) spends his days and nights drinking and smoking pot. How could she WANT to go to school and “assimilate” when the life of someone she loves is going to hell?

Or perhaps the reason you should read this (other than it’s Laurie Halse Anderson)? Because even though Anderson writes about PTSD, she doesn’t just write about the disease. She writes about the people.  The people you come to know and love. And she doesn’t just write about the disease, she writes about the issues surrounding it, like how hard war is on both the vets and the families; and how the community, however well meaning they may be, doesn’t always understand how hard war is; and like how no matter how much you love a person, they’re not going to be able to get help until they want to get help.

And then there’s Finn. Oh, man, I fell for him. But I don’t want to make it seem like this is a love story (it’s not, even though there is kissing! In a pool!) or that he saves the day (he doesn’t, though he is a catalyst and a support).

No, you should read this because it’s the story of a father and a daughter who have lost their way, and how they find it again.

Or you could just read it because it’s Laurie Halse Anderson.

3 thoughts on “The Impossible Knife of Memory

  1. Ha! So true — Anderson is a genius storyteller. This book is just another example of how well she can craft an interesting story peopled with characters you care about. Glad you enjoyed it!


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