Monday, January 20, 2014

Powerful and Poignant, Laurie Halse Anderson's Newest Is Not to Be Missed

(Image from Barnes & Noble)


Unlike most teenagers, 17-year-old Hayley Kincain's never gone to high school.  She's spent the last 5 years traveling with her dad, a truck driver who prefers life on the road to anything else.  Hayley knows he's trying to outrun the nightmares that have plagued him ever since he returned from a tour of duty in Iraq.  He might be able to fend them off for a few days or weeks, but they always come back.  Always.  No matter how thoroughly he tries to drown his memories in alcohol or forget them with mind-dulling drugs, they're always waiting to beat him up and tear him down.  Hayley watches her dad like a hawk, savoring his good days and fearing the dark ones.  With anxiety attacks coming more and more frequently, she's terrified, not just for her father, but also for herself.

Though Hayley should probably be thrilled with her dad's decision to move back to his childhood home in upstate New York, she's not.  She's scared—scared of going to school, scared of meeting new people, scared of someone discovering her turbulent home life.  Hayley vows not to let anyone get that close.  Not even Finn, the cute boy who obviously wants to get to know her better.  Especially not Finn.  If he knew the truth, he'd run as far away from the Kincains as he could go.

As Andy Kincain's PTSD gets increasingly worse and Hayley's plagued with disturbing flashbacks of her own, she begins to wonder if maybe it's all too much for one teenager to handle.  But what can she do?  How can she save them both?

Laurie Halse Anderson is one of those authors whose books I will always pick up and read.  With novels like Speak and now The Impossible Knife of Memory, she's proved herself to be a skilled, sensitive writer who explores tough issues with a deft, yet delicate hand.  Her people and places come to such vivid life that readers can't help becoming ensnared in their stories.  Anderson's newest novel is no exception.  It's a sharp, compelling tale made even more affecting because it stems from the author's own experience dealing with her father's PTSD.  Powerful and poignant, The Impossible Knife of Memory is not to be missed.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of Miles From Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams and A Blue So Dark by Holly Schindler)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (1 F-bomb, plus milder invectives), sexual innuendo, violence and depictions of alcohol abuse and illegal drug use

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of The Impossible Knife of Memory from the generous folks at Penguin.  Thank you!

3 comments:

  1. I keep hearing such wonderful things about this book. I am going to have to pick it up.

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  2. I have really liked all the LHA books I've read so far, and I'm excited for another one. She always takes such heavy topics, but manages to portray realistic yet hopeful stories. I'm looking forward to this one as well!

    - Kritika @ Snowflakes & Spider silk

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  3. so glad to hear you enjoyed this one-- it's already on my list because I'm like you in that I'll read anything by LHA! I'm so glad it's great!

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