Friday, July 31, 2015

Review: The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

For the past five years, Hayley Kincain 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.

I decided to read this book partly because I loved Speak and because I was looking for a book with an intriguing plot and just a little bit of romance.

In The Impossible Knife of Memory, Hayley and her father are trying to start a new life in her father's hometown after being gone for so long. It's not that easy, though, as Hayley's father suffers from PTSD. Things keep spiraling downward until one day, something gives.

This book didn't make me laugh and cry as much as Speak did, but I still enjoyed it. I don't think I've ever read a book that focused on PTSD from the viewpoint of a family member, though I have read accounts from people, especially soldiers, who battle PTSD. It's no picnic for the person experiencing it, and it's no fun for the people around them either.

You can't really tackle this issue without going a bit dramatic, so I didn't mind the difficult scenes wherein Hayley's dad lost it a few times. It made it easier to sympathize with Hayley, as well as her hated stepmother.

The book is told mostly from Hayley's point-of-view, with some material interspersed that appears to have been written by her father. Her father's writing was a little disturbing and a lot sad. It really makes you question sometimes if war is worth the price.

As for the characters, they were mostly broken, but still likable. Hayley reminded me a lot of Daria Morgendorffer. She's sarcastic and they have the same sense of humor and delivery of lines. I wasn't too sure about Finn at first, but he's charmingly weird and eventually he won me over. Their romance was mostly fun to watch, although at one point there, it went to a dark place that made me want to yell at them to go see a therapist.


  1. Hayley and Finn are good together.
  2. The characters are by no means perfect, but their flaws feel natural.
  3. The story is heartbreaking and dramatic. 


  1. It can be emotionally difficult to read sometimes. 

I needed to hear the world but didn't want the world to know I was listening. 

  1. You know someone who has PTSD.
  2. You think PTSD is something that isn't that hard to conquer.
  3. You like heroines that are quirky and sarcastic. 




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