Guest Review by Kelci P.
Laurie Halse Anderson is primarily a YA/Children’s Fiction writer who occasionally dabs in the pond of historical fiction. She has won the Margaret Edwards Award in 2009 for her talent in YA literature. Her first novel, “Speak”, was published in 1999, and was a hit for teens all over the globe. Laurie writes about the “hard-hitting” issues regarding being a young adult such as rape, depression, anorexia, and the pressures of being perfect. Mrs. Anderson’s writing is extremely relatable even though she is now a 52 year old mom of five.
Personally, I’m a big fan of Laurie. Her book “Wintergirls” is so phenomenal that I have a paperback copy, hardback copy, and, hopefully soon, a signed copy. “Wintergirls” was released in 2009, so, naturally, when I saw she finally wrote a new novel, I screamed like a preteen girl at a Justin Bieber concert. In “The Impossible Knife of Memory”, you take a look into Haley Kincaid’s crazy life. Hailey has been homeschooled up until her senior year of high school. With a father who reeks of PTSD from his tours in Iraq, a mother who passed away during Hayley’s early years as a newborn, and a desire to just get high school over with, Hayley braves the challenges like a champion. At least, until her “stepmom” comes back into the picture.
Hayley’s supressed childhood memories of this “stepmom” include baking desserts, storytelling, hugs, laughter, alchoholism, and abandonment. Mrs. Anderson also tossed some teenage love into the mix. Why? I have no clue. Not every teenager falls in love in high school. I found Hayley way too strong to fall in “love” with this random kid on the swim team.
If you’ve ever had suicidal thoughts, then the ending of this book will really hit home for you. So, if you are depressed, proceed with caution. Hayley’s best friend at her school also likes to abuse prescription drugs. So, add in some peer pressure with a splash of a divorce.
In general, Mrs. Anderson did not live up to my expectations in this novel. I would not recommend this book if it’s your first time reading one of her books. I would start off with “Speak”, “Fever 1793”, or “Twisted”. My favorite parts of the book were the chapters where Hayley’s dad described his war flashbacks. They were so descriptive and honest. My least favorite part was when Hayley’s “stepmom” returned from East Jesus Nowhere. I feel like it didn’t fit into the story appropriately – almost like tossing cotton candy in a taco shell.
I give this piece of literature a 7.5/10.
I cannot relate to most of the issues present to the main character in this book, but if you deal with PTSD, Anger Issues, or Abandonment Issues then this just might be the book for you.