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The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson Book Review

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

Pages: 372
Source: Local Library

I should probably warn you ahead of time that this review might be a little biased. I mean, first of all, I am the optimistic reviewer who only ever reads good books apparently, but this is also Laurie Halse Anderson and I think I might just give a book a five star review simply because her name is on the front cover. If you have not read her novel, Speak, I highly recommend that you get right on that because it is not a book you will easily forget. I must have read it years ago and it still holds a place in my heart. This author is my hero! She is never afraid to go after and really attack and uncover those controversial, difficult topics we would much rather stuff in the closet and she's a trend setter as well. I think many authors and teens find the voice to write what they want to write and to speak up when they want to speak up because of her writing. And guys, there's just not a novel out there that's like The Knife of Impossible Memory. Let me tell you why. 

     After spending so much time in my various history classes, I used to think that my generation is very lucky to have missed some of the horrible times of war like WWII and Vietnam and so on because so many men were lost. I used to think that at least a good portion of the brave men and women who serve our country today come back unharmed, but that's really not true at all. Just because a person can make it through a war with their body intact does not mean they weren't damaged in any sort of way. And I think today's society does not care enough for the psychological, mental, and emotional baggage many people come home with and ultimately can't escape from and I would wager that Laurie Halse Anderson feels the same way. Like I mentioned before, she finds a way to face those topics that are absolutely relevant to today's world and yet are ignored for the sake of comfort. But choosing to turn away from the issues that plague our society because you don't understand them does nothing to help those who must fight these battles alone. How many soldiers come home and still can't escape the war? How many people suffer through PTSD? How many people consider suicide a day? How many kids are forced to grow up and take care of their parents way before they're ready to? These are people and these are hardships we can't hide from and I applaud Mrs. Anderson for caring enough to take the initiative to write these stories no matter how painful or dark they are. 

     I'm always talking about how crucial it is for books to be authentic and honest and this book definitely accomplishes that. In fact, there were many times that I was annoyed or even angry at the main character Hayley for some of the choices she made and then I thought, wait a second! I certainly have irrational feelings and everybody else I know does too. It would be weird if Hayley was a perfectly rational being because human beings really fail in this category. If you have also noticed, life is not perfect either. We don't get to choose who our parents are or what kind of childhood we'll receive. Chances are, we'll get hurt at some point and we'll fight at some point and there are days where nothing will go our way. The challenge is trusting people anyway because the good memories that are made matter so much more than the pain we can sometimes experience. That was the message Laurie Halse Anderson was trying to give me.

    What's even better about this book, though, is that not everybody will receive the same message. It's so realistic and honest that people will find moments in the writing that compare to their own lives. Some will think it's about repairing relationships with family. Some will think it's about the effects of war on everyday life. Some will even find relief in the fact that Finn and Hayley's relationship is nowhere near perfect and yet, they make it work anyway. I found their fights quite refreshing honestly....but their make-ups were even better! I don't know how, but this book will touch you in some way.

     I don't know what else I can say about this book honestly. I'm still kind of reeling after reading it and I don't know what else I could say about it that would make you want to pick it up. It's worth it? It's beautiful and simple and complex and human? It's Laurie Halse Anderson for pete's sake! Why should I have to say anything else? 

So don't take my word for it! I don't know if you will like this book even half as much as I liked it or how it will change you, so I guess you'll just have to figure that out on your own!

Oh hello there! My name is Emily, though some of you may know me as the Bookie Monster. As the name would suggest, I devour books like the Cookie Monster devours cookies. In my spare time, I like to bake cookies (and devour those as well) and dream about taking over the world. As if my book obsession wasn't life consuming enough,

I work in the children's room at my local library and I am currently a sophomore in college majoring in English. It's safe to say I'm a bit of a book fanatic. I discreetly shed a few tears on my eleventh birthday when I did not receive my Hogwarts acceptance letter and I waited seven hours outside in the rain just to get a good seat at the Hunger Games midnight premiere. I'm terrified of blood and Disney movies make me cry (in a good way). My passions include hippos, hugs, and Hans Zimmer…and uh,long walks on the beach. I'm just a normal girl w
ith a slightly abnormal and frightfully expensive obsession. Nice to meet you!


  1. I am so happy that you reviewed and loved this book! She is also one of my favorite authors. I've read ALL of her other books and end up crying and cheering throughout them all. I also can always find parallels between my life and the characters in her books. When this book came out I was so excited but when I read the synopsis I was a little wary about if I would be interested in the topic but clearly I was wrong. Now I'm so excited to read it!! This is a really really great review!

  2. Sounds amazing. I love Anderson's novels like Speak and Wintergirls. A good, realistic contemporary is almost always my favorite. My brother is overseas right now so this is definitely one of those books I might have to wait a bit to read. I do like how she tackles a topic most people ignore or don't know much about.

  3. I've been seeing this book everywhere. I've never read a Laurie Halse Anderson book before but I think I need to give this one a try!

  4. I have authors who I love that much and want to make everything they write a five cups of coffee review..LOL This sounds wonderful and is on my must read list!

  5. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one! I recently read it and I enjoyed it immensely. It was so raw and gutting, but the narration was spot-on and Finn was all kinds of swoon! ;) Lovely review, Emily!

  6. I know exactly what you mean! I want to give five stars to some author's books just because they are written ;) It's great that this book backs up an awesome author, I'll be sure to check this book out next time I see it!

  7. I SO want to read this book, even more now, after reading your review. I crave more realistic books especially after a few certain contemporary reads I've had recently. Love the review!


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