Book Review – The One Memory of Flora Banks by @Emily_Barr #tuesdaybookblog

There are some books you stay up until 2 AM (on a work night) to read. This was one of those books.  It was one of the weirdest books I’ve read in quite some time, with a unique protagonists and a fantastic plot.

Not your usual YA  read for me, as I tend to focus on fantasy, but I do like high school and life-themed Young Adult books too, and this was truly one-of-a-kind. I think this is one of those books, that you wouldn’t have to be a genre reader to enjoy. This is one of those books that anyone from any genre would love because it is just that well-written.

Amazon Blurb

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHO TO TRUST WHEN YOU CAN’T EVEN TRUST YOURSELF?

I look at my hands. One of them says FLORA BE BRAVE.

Flora has anterograde amnesia. She can’t remember anything day-to-day: the joke her friend made, the instructions her parents gave her, how old she is.

Then she kisses someone she shouldn’t, and the next day she remembers it. It’s the first time she’s remembered anything since she was ten. 

But the boy is gone. She thinks he’s moved to the Arctic. 

Will following him be the key to unlocking her memory? Who can she trust?

Buy it here: AmazonUK AmazonUSA

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Plot

The plot was fantastic, a new concept, to me anyway. Flora has retrograde amnesia, her parents have lied to her her whole life and when they’re called away suddenly everything starts to untangle.

The central concept is of a girl living her life with retrograde amnesia when she can only remember things for a couple of hours. It was amazing and made me grapple with the question of how someone would live like that. The story depicts her life in an extremely plausible way. The author comes up with believable and authentic coping methods and tactics Flora uses to prod her memory. All in all, it was a beautiful portrayal of how someone with that type of amnesia might live.

Characters

The characters are fantastically unique. Each one gave me something to either love or hate about them. I particularly liked the mother of Flora and all her complexities. It was almost a shame I didn’t get to see more of her. The main love interest (without giving too much away) was a dick! Flora was brilliant, despite her disability, she was fantastically strong, capable, and independent. I did feel that in her mind she thought she was incapable at the end, which was a strange kind of character arc. But thankfully on the very last page she came back to herself. But I would have liked to have seen a bit more of that, or at least seen a bit more of the story. But that’s a good thing; the author left me wanting more… SO, SO MUCH MORE.

Language

The language was at first, quite difficult to get to grips with. This is not because it was poorly written, quite the contrary, Barr has a beautiful stylistic prose and one that I devoured rapidly. But the language was difficult because of Flora’s amnesia. This meant that Barr used a lot of repetition to create Flora’s unique character. After a while, you sink into the flow of Flora’s mind and the repetition is both a comfort and part of her unique character and in fact helps add depth to Flora’s character.

The Ending

I liked the ending. I like where it went; I like what happened to the characters, and I liked the style in which she ended it. But because I liked it, I would have liked a little more from the final couple of chapters. Conveyed through letters, much of the ending and the big reveal is given away in those letters which are told from another character’s perspective. I understand why Barr did this, but for me, I would have liked to have seen a little more of the reveal and what happened to Flora from Flora’s point of view. That’s not a criticism, more of a ‘the author smashed it; I wish it hadn’t ended’ type comment!

The very last page had the perfect amount of showing you what happened and leaving a little to the reader’s imagination. A fantastic read, four stars from me and a book that I will recommend to anyone from any genre.

My thanks to Netgalley and Penguin for this review copy.

Have you read the book? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

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6 comments

  1. You have convinced me to put this book on my reading list. Why? My uncle, the one I was named Lloyd for because I was born on his birthday, lost his short term memory around the age of 90. Every time he went to sleep, he lost every memory of every thing he did that day and forgot everyone new he met that day. He wouldn’t forget someone like me because I’d been part of his life since the day I was born. Those memories were already in his long term memory, but if I visited him after he lost his short term memory abilities, he’d forget I visited.

    During our waking hours all of our memories go into short term memory and when we sleep, some of those memories are transferred to long term memory but many are deleted and we have little control over this process because we are sleeping. Imagine the things we forget that we might want to keep?

    Then I had a 12th grade student in the high school journalism class I was the teacher-advisor for back in 1995, who had a stroke and lost her ability to talk. She lost all of her spoken language skills and had to learn like a baby how to speak again but because she was prone to these strokes repeatedly, she could lose it all again. She could still write but couldn’t speak. She was a very bright girl and was on her way to college at the end of that year but that stroke, something genetic she inherited, pretty much ended her life and her dreams.

    Have you ever seen the film “Regarding Henry”?

    “Henry Turner is a despicable and ruthless trial lawyer whose life is turned upside down when he is shot in the head during a robbery. He survives the injury with significant brain damage and must re-learn how to speak, walk, and function normally. He has also lost most of the memory of his personal life, and must adjust to life with the family that he does not remember. To the surprise of his wife and daughter, Henry becomes a loving and affectionate man.”

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102768/

    1. That film sounds awesome.

      Well from your descriptions, it sounds like the author obviously did her research, although there were occasions when Flora lost her memory while awake, they were rare. Most of the time she would wake up and they would be gone. She has some great coping methods and techniques. If nothing else, you might like the book just because of the connections you have with short-term memory loss.

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