Book Review: The Impossible Knife of Memory

19319022Title: The Impossible Knife of Memory

Author: Laurie Halse Anderson

Format/Length: Paperback/304 pages

Publisher/Date Published:  Text Publishing/ January 2nd 2014

Category/Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary

Source: Library

Description: 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.

3/5 stars —


I super-excited for this one. I’ve heard a lot about Laurie Anderson, so when I first started this, I knew I was in for a good book — and I wasn’t entirely wrong. I think Anderson is a wonderful writer and without a doubt I would read another book published by her in a heartbeat. This review will be split into the positive and negatives of what I liked and didn’t like — but overall, this is good I would recommend for people looking for a good contemporary read that focuses on family, not the usual teenage drama that you’ll find in a lot of contemps. *cough* Secret Diamond Sisters *cough*

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1) Like I said above, I liked that this book focused on Haley and her father.

2) Finn — and the humour he brought to the story.

3) The writing! I loved it.

This book is different from a lot of other novels out there. That was what I liked about it. I haven’t read many novels which focus around PTSD; this novel wasn’t just about the romance between Haley and Finn, it was about her and her father coping with the past. While I didn’t find this novel completely heart-wrenching, it wasn’t entirely unemotional, and there were plenty of times I felt sorry for what Haley and her father had to go through at a regular basis. The author did a good job of showing how PTSD affected the people around Andy, Haley’s father.

The Impossible Knife of Memory had a good blend of sadness and humour — the humorous edge of the novel brought to the story by Finn. He was definitely my favourite character of the novel as his humour cut through the darker themes of the story and brought a smile to my face.

This book was beautifully written! Just by reading the way that the author puts words on the page I would undoubtedly read something else written by her. The prose especially was wonderful. So while this book was worth my time in reading, and it deserved three stars, there were still some things I didn’t like about it.

1) It took me awhile to get into the story and was quite slow at some points.

2) I wasn’t a fan of the main character.

Let’s face it: while I do read more contemporary than I used to, it’s not my favourite genre, and probably won’t ever be. However that does not mean I cannot enjoy a contemporary book, but for me to fall in love with it, the pace of this book needed to be a little faster. There were a few times when I caught myself skimming down the page just to see what would happen next. In saying this, however, the ending was very heart-racing.

Haley Kincain, the main character, was hard for me to like. She was cold and sometimes even cruel to people at times, and I found myself continually being frustrated at her. She was not a character I despised completely, though, and as she finally opened up to Finn she became much more likeable. However for a lot of the time I found myself being quite frustrated by her.

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Let me know your thoughts on the novel in the comments below! Also, you can like my Facebook page here.


3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Impossible Knife of Memory

  1. This is a maybe book for me. I love books with beautiful writing and I can tolerate a slowish pace (this is what happens when you read so many classics). However, I really hate when the main character frustrates me. Sometimes, though, that can change and the book gets better. For example, when I read When the Butterflies Came I got so frustrated that at first, all Tara did was get sidetracked and distracted from her main goal. Fortunately, she soon came to be much more likeable.

  2. I did quite enjoy this one. I think it wrangled a 4 out of me. x) I agree that Hayley was buckets of cold though…and she frustrated me how she treated others, but like that was all part of the story and her reactions to her father. Her father SCARED me. I was so so worried he’d just flip out and do something really bad….I spent the whole book totally on edge.

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