This book is: heartbreaking and beautiful.
Other elements: PTSD, depression, broken families, drug addiction, trying to be a normal teenager when your family is damaged.
Read it: if you’re in the mood for something sad and strong.
Overall rating: 8/10
If you’ve read anything else by the incomparable Laurie Halse Anderson, author of Speak, Wintergirls, and other important novels, then you’re already correctly assuming that The Impossible Knife of Memory is a great book.
You are correct.
First of all – and I know I’m breaking the golden rule of book judging – how great is this cover? Quietly stunning, with a bittersweet beauty. A perfect image to set the tone for the story of Hayley Kincain, a teenage who is struggling to adjust to school in a new place while also trying to surreptitiously take care of her father, an Iraq war veteran who is losing the battle against his PTSD.
Hayley’s story is engaging and finely knit; the juxtaposition of her efforts to look after her father while also trying to do things like pass match class serve as poignant reminder that everyone you meet might have their own overpowering, invisible struggle to bear.
I read this book straight through in about four hours. It’s very well written, but I suspect it would hit too close to home for some people. Like most of Laurie Halse Anderson’s books, The Impossible Knife of Memory addresses dark and difficult issues head on. If you don’t want to read about depression, mental health issues, and children being neglected, this is not the book for you. That said: I enjoyed reading it. I would call it a novel that inspires empathy rather than a straight-up tearjerker.
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