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The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

Hayley’s father has been attempting for five years to escape his memories of Iraq. He’s been on the road with Hayley, traveling from town to town, struggling to block out his inner demons. After coming up fruitless time and time again, finally the father-daughter duo is settling down in Hayley’s father’s hometown. Haley finally has the chance to live an ordinary life; go to school, make new friends maybe even have a boyfriend! But with Hayley’s own painful memories and her father’s PTSD pushing him to the edge, being normal seems impossible.

What I Thought of The Impossible Knife of Memory

The Impossible Knife of Memory contains some great qualities, but one characteristic of this novel takes my review from five stars to four. In this book, Laurie Halse Anderson creates a gripping, relatable novel about trauma and recovery but unlike her other books, such as Speak, The Impossible Knife of Memory lacked my emotional connection. Before delving in to why I was so unemotional about this novel, I’ll explain what I enjoyed first. Most of all, I liked how this book focused mainly on PTSD but not solely. Almost every character had their own dilemmas, each distinctive and each tied in well. For instance, Hayley’s best friend’s family was falling apart as her parents divorced, and Finn had problems that aren’t revealed until the end. This makes The Impossible Knife of Memory relatable on three fields rather than one. Finn’s secrets are another component I enjoyed about this book, that and Hayley’s father unpredictability kept me intrigued throughout the novel. Additionally, even with this heavy topic, there’s plenty of entertaining humor! So what didn’t I like? As I said earlier, in books like Speak I felt like the book was pulling on my heart’s strings, but this was not the case for The Impossible Knife of Memory. We never learned enough about Hayley’s dad for us readers to be able to really grow attached to his character, especially since his backstory about his time in Iraq/Afghanistan is somewhat of a mystery. On the other hand, I did enjoy The Impossible Knife of Memory and recommend it to any fan of Laurie Halse Anderson or contemporary fiction. But if you are looking for a heart-wrenching novel about PTSD this may not be the book for you.

A memorable part in The Impossible Knife of Memory is when Hayley is describing other people as either “freaks” or “zombies”. I thought this described Hayley’s unique voice and character very well in only a few sentences.

Overall Rating: 4 Stars