Hayley and her father have moved back to his childhood home after spending five years on the road. He’s been trying to escape the demons that have followed him back from his time in Iraq and is hoping that settling down will help, finally offering Hayley a more stable life for her senior year in high school. As her father struggles with alcohol and drugs, blackouts and anger, depression and unemployment, Hayley struggles with romance and friendship and schoolwork and well… her father. She becomes the responsible one, trying to make sure her father is OK while trying to manage all of the complexities of being a teenager.
I am a big fan of Laurie Halse Anderson’s work. Speak was fantastic and Wintergirls still haunts me – they both make me want to lock my 12-year old daughter inside the house for the next ten years or so! So it was with great anticipation that I grabbed The Impossible Knife of Memory the minute it hit the library shelves. And while the addressing of PTSD is important and uncommon in YA literature, and while I liked Haley, loved her boyfriend Finn, and felt for her father – for some reason it just fell short for me. I can’t even explain exactly why, I just never truly connected with the characters or their pain. I wanted to, I really did. I kept waiting for it to grab me in the gut and not let go, but it just never did. And the ending seemed to come and go quickly, with things wrapped up more nicely than I expected. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a good book and worth reading. It addresses an important issue as our veterans continue to come home, and it provides an excellent vehicle for meaningful conversations about the surrounding issues. Unfortunately, it just won’t stick with me the way her other works have…
Title: The Impossible Knife of Memory
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult
Publication: Viking Juvenile, January 2014