Book Review: The One Memory of Flora Banks (Emily Barr)
* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *
Release Date: January 12th 2017
Summary (from Goodreads):
Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora’s brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora’s fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.
With little more than the words “be brave” inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must “be brave” if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.
I didn’t know a lot about this book going in and I’m kind of glad I didn’t because if I’d seen the synopsis I’m not sure I would have read it. Because there’s a big thing that irked me about this book, and I’m going to get it out of the way no so I can move onto the positive.
Flora has anterograde amnesia and can’t make new memories since the illness that caused her memory problems when she was 10. But then she kisses Drake, her best friends boyfriend, and she remembers it. This memory sets off a chain of events that sends her all the way to the arctic and Flora learns a lot more about herself and her past than she thought possible.
In that paragraph lies the flaw to me: she kisses a boy and gets a new memory. She kisses a boy and it fixes her problems. Okay, not completely, but it’s the start of something. And that bothered me a lot. It felt cliche and I’ve had enough of books where the protagonist is miraculously cured by a boy. The book did have a bit of a twist that had me almost back on its side, but then it backtracked on it. So I’m not keen on that element, which is, admittedly, a big part of the book.
But on to what I liked.
Flora is the ultimate unreliable narrator. She remembers things by writing them down: if she doesn’t she’ll forget them. She can pick what she remembers and what she wants to have never happened to her, and that’s what happens sometimes. She has these romantic emails with Drake, and when he sends one she doesn’t like, she chooses to forget it. After a few hours, it never happened to her. It’s fascinating to read and you just can’t tell if you’re getting the whole story from her.
The way the book is written is very repetitive, as Flora is constantly repeating herself, reminding herself what has happened and what she is supposed to be doing. This might be annoying to some but I found it really helped me get into her head. She has such a distinctive voice this way and I really enjoyed it.
I was conflicted on how to rate this as it has a big flaw in my mind, but in the end I did really enjoy it so I think that should be reflected in the rating. The narration is fascinating, there’s a great mystery and everything is told so uniquely, I can’t help but like it.