Release: January 7, 2014
Source: ARC from librarian
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.
Anderson has penned a poignant and thoughtful novel, dealing with topics such as post traumatic stress disorder, family discord, and veterans who come home from war with no transitive period. The use of the word "knife" in the title and inky blue water revealed by a jagged crack in the ice in the title suggested a deep and cutting emotional experience, or a series of such experiences, as indicative by the the word "memory" in the title.
I struck by the sharp brevity of Hayley's narration, and I immediately knew that Hayley's character was tough and street smart. It was rewarding to watch her grow up from a girl who wants to keep her daddy safe and learned to keep her walls up if she didn't want to get hurt, to transform into a young woman who knew that her dad was far from flawless but still loved him and fought for him and learned that it's okay to let people in and be vulnerable.
I particularly enjoyed her new found relationship with Finn. He was funny, sweet, and endearing. He wasn't perfect, as exemplified by his lack of empathy in Hayley's situation with her father, but he grew too. He came to understand Andy, and was there for Hayley when she needed him most. He reminded me of Augustus Waters from The Fault in Our Stars.
As for the plot, it was on point. The pace moved along, which I appreciated, but it never felt life things were moving unrealistically fast. I applaud the author's choice to not make the time span a full year, which reminds me of Ally Carter's choice to keep each book in the Gallagher Girls series a semester long.
By the turn of the last page, I had most certainly cried, and I had grown attached to characters and their world, and wished to stay with them longer. In the end, I was satisfied with how it ended, and it gave me hope for the future, and for the now, as well as a despairing knowing of how some things are in life. I was left with this: some things can not be helped, but we still need to do our best, because it does truly matter.