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BOOK REVIEW: The Memory Book by Lara Avery

BOOK REVIEW: The Memory Book by Lara Avery

Quercus
July 2016
Paperback, $17.99
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell

Young Adult / Contemporary / Personal & Social Issues

5/10

“They tell me that my memory will never be the same, that I’ll start forgetting things. At first just a little, and then a lot. So I’m writing to remember.” 

Samantha McCoy has it all mapped out. First she’s going to win the national debating championship, then she’s going to move to New York and become a human rights lawyer. But when Sammie discovers that a rare disease is going to take away her memory, the future she’d planned so perfectly is derailed before it’s started. What she needs is a new plan.

So the Memory Book is born: Sammie’s notes to her future self, a document of moments great and small. Realising that her life won’t wait to be lived, she sets out on a summer of firsts: The first party; The first rebellion; The first friendship; The last love.

Through a mix of heartfelt journal entries, mementos, and guest posts from friends and family, readers will fall in love with Sammie, a brave and remarkable girl who learns to live and love life fully, even though it’s not the life she planned.

 

The Memory Book has many of the required elements for a book that will tug at your heartstrings and linger long after reading.

  • Our main character has a condition which will result in the loss of her memory and eventually her life.
  • Said main character with said devastating and ultimately fatal condition is a teenager who’s about to finish high school and has so many plans for her future. Plans which will never eventuate thanks to said condition.
  • Recently after the diagnosis she develops a relationship with the boy she’s had a crush on for years.
  • She also reconnects with the boy she used to be the best of friends with. The guy who has always thought she was awesome.
  • She’s the oldest child in her family, and has some truly touching moments with her parents and siblings.
  • It’s told in the form of a diary, so we get an unreliable narrator and prime seats all in one.
  • She refuses to submit to her condition. She’s determined to beat it. Despite all the people telling her how bad her prognosis is. Despite signs of deterioration and lapses in memory.

For lovers of books like The Fault in Our Stars, this is bound to be a hit. Unfortunately there was something missing for this reader. 

Perhaps it was the lack of connection with Sammie and, despite understanding her willingness to think positive and refuse to let the condition in, how frustrating it was when she continued to fight to participate in things as she would have before the condition. The most frustrating thing about this was how often she caused hassles for others or put herself and others in potentially dangerous situations just because she refused to accept what was going on.

This is perhaps rather accurate as to how a person might behave. We’ve all been teenagers and twisted the truth in a way that would get our parents to give permission for us to go to certain events. We’ve all had moments of wishing we could change our situation.

But somehow this just left this reader feeling a little disconnected, and the overall feeling at the end of the book was “meh”.

Books like this are important as they draw our attention to conditions we might not know much/anything about, they engage readers, they give us a view of a world outside our own, and help us to sympathise with those we might meet in our travels.

But sometimes all the right ingredients, when put together, don’t deliver on the expected end result.

Other readers have been completely blown away by this book, but for me it was enjoyable for the most part, but frustrating at times, and lacking in connection.

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Memory Book by Lara Avery

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