Review: The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

20140120-071025.jpgLaurie Halse Anderson is a master at speaking the language of teenage angst and turmoil. She gave us Speak, a story about a teenage girl traumatized to the point of becoming mute. In Wintergirls, she addresses the self-destructive behaviors of eating disorders and cutting. And then there’s her latest endeavor…

Seventeen-year-old Hayley and her dad, Andy, have relied on just each other for years. A veteran of wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, Andy suffers from debilitating PTSD while Hayley does her best to hold their fragile lives together. As is the case in many of these situations, she becomes the parent while her dad struggles to simply survive each day. She can’t separate the happy memories from the bad ones, so she represses them all. They’ve traveled across the country as he attempted to escape his demons. When that doesn’t work, they settle back in their hometown where Hayley enrolls in school for the first time after being homeschooled for so many years. Enter Finn, a quirky, lovable soul who takes her as she is, secrets and all. There’s also Gracie, Hayley’s one remaining friend from her childhood. Hayley’s reluctant to allow anyone access to her private world even as it crumbles around her. Andy sinks deeper and deeper into his own private hell as each day passes. He drowns himself in alcohol and drugs in an attempt to silence the battle going on in his head. The rare moments of lucidity and normalcy are just enough to keep Hayley from reaching out for help. She, meanwhile, is facing her own struggles outside of home. A bright student who loves to get lost in her books, she’s also extremely unmotivated and spends much of her school days in either the counselor’s office or detention. The story follows Hayley as she tries to save her dad and, as a result, herself as well. Along the way, she realizes that her friends’ picture perfect lives aren’t as happy as they seem; every family has its secrets. Hers are just a little more dangerous.

Laurie Halse Anderson has once again written a story that plunges you deep into the hearts and souls of her characters. Hayley is a flawed teenager who could be any of us. She has a dry, witty sense of humor and a strong sense of survival for both she and her dad. She is wise beyond her years and is loyal to a fault. Hayley isn’t one of the pretty, popular girls but she’s the one I’d most like to be friends with. I enjoyed this book tremendously and finished it in a day. It’s another great young adult book from an amazing author.

~ Thalia

Buy it Now: The Impossible Knife of Memory