The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

18079527Published January 7th 2014 by Viking Books For Young Readers

Young-Adult, Contemporary, Mental Illness, Realistic-Fiction

Borrowed Hardcover from the library

My Rating 5 Stars

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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

My Thoughts This book is impossibly hard to put down, but you will have to in order to get through this story. It’s a very emotionally charged story – and it will sit with you for a while afterwards. I love books centered around mental health; this story involves a heavy dose of PTSD, and it is one of the best books that I’ve read with the subject.

Hayley and Andy grabbed my heart instantly. They only have each other, Hayley’s mother having passed away when she was little. And while dad was off to war, Hayley’s grandmother looked after her, and she too passes away. After returning home from serving his country – nursing a leg injury, Andy starts to unravel. Hayley gets a front row seat in seeing just what has become of her dad. He’s paranoid and impulsive, a deadly combination. Hayley is just a kid, but she tries to take care of her dad and that is a tough job for someone who needs to be taken care of herself. Soon, his actions rub off on her, and she too deals with paranoid tendencies.

Andy and Hayley both are chasing shadows. It’s heartbreaking to read, and had the writing not been so beautiful, I probably would have stopped reading it and put it aside for later. Halse does a great job in bringing real issues to life in a fictional world. There is a little romance in this story, but it doesn’t overshadow the real issue. Finn’s appearance is one that I needed like air. I loved him instantly and was hoping that he would stick around, to which he did. I needed the break from the heaviness, or again, I may have just not finished the book so soon. I love his geeky character. He and Hayley are both smart as hell, so to see these two go head to head in their first meeting was great to read. I found myself smiling because I instantly put them together, whether that was the direction the story was heading or not. He is having a not so great situation at home. Gracie, Hayley’s childhood friend, is having a not so great situation either. Everyone is going through something!

This is a book that I would recommend everyday if I have to. As heavy and emotional as it is, it’s one that deserves to be read. When people think of soldiers, they think of Army, Seals, Marines, etc… out saving the world. They don’t see the ghost that haunt many of them once they return to civilian life. They don’t see the copious amounts of drugs and alcohol that they ingest, just to get by and put the demons to sleep – if only for a few hours. It’s not a taboo subject as it used to be, because I read articles all the time about families dealing with it. I remember being a little girl and hearing my uncle talking about this man that used to walk around all the time talking to himself. I never knew why, but when I got older I did. This is a story about one girl’s life after war. It is a very moving book. Highly recommend!


7 thoughts on “The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

  1. I have to be in a special kind of mood to take on something to heavy and emotionally charged. But sometimes those are the stories that are most rewarding and poignant. You have me very much interested in Hayley, Andy, and Finn.


  2. Whoa, someone has definitely been picking up all the good reads lately! I need this, because I have only been getting the rubbish ones. For some reason my bloglovin decided not to follow you, but that’s okay because it is all sorted out now. I also am going to have to try this one at some point. It does sound like a heavy subject matter, especially with the shadows they are each chasing and the PSTD. So I will mentally prepare myself!


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