The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr
Published in: 2017
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Find it here: The One Memory of Flora Banks
This ARC was provided by Penguin Random House (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis 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.
Book Worm’s Thoughts: I was intrigued by the premise of this story about girl who has no short term memory and it was an interesting read. I really liked Flora’s character and her coping mechanisms, which seemed very realistic. There were other parts of the book, however, that just felt completely unrealistic given what we are told about Flora’s family background. Don’t get me wrong, certain things needed to happen for the story to occur, but I think a less dramatic action than travelling to the Arctic alone would have been both more in keeping with the back story and more believable for the reader.
I did enjoy the slow build up. Since Flora can remember nothing outside of kissing Drake, she constantly needs to remind herself, and hence the reader, what has actually happened to her. There are actually several hidden clues throughout the narrative that show us that things are not exactly as Flora remembers them. We, the reader, can work out the clues, but Flora herself has no idea. These reminders also mean that a lot of the actual narrative is repetitive as Flora consults her notebook, her hands, her arms, and her phone to remember who she is, where she is, and why she is there. The repetition is not a bad thing because it immerses the reader in what it is like to be Flora.
Flora is a great character who comes across as a mix between a vunerable 10 year old and a 17 year-old who is desperately trying to be an adult. She swings between these two ends of the spectrum, at times desperate for her parents and at other times desperate to be herself. I generally liked the secondary characters, however, all too nice (with the exception of one) and as such there was no feeling of tension. There are sad situations and hints of complicated family relationships and issues around guilt.
Overall, this is a gentle read which ends on a message of hope and has the potential for a follow up book. I think it would be great to see what happens to Flora and the people around her.
Who would like this? The target audience is YA and I would say this would appeal to girls in the younger teen range due to its gentle feeling and lack of sex and violence. For the adults amon,g us I would recommend this to those with an interest with memory loss and coping mechanisms as well as family dynamics and the effects of guilt.
Want to try it for yourself? You can find a copy here: The One Memory of Flora Banks
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