Review: The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

February 22, 2014 Book 6

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Text Publishing
Publication Date: January 2nd, 2014
Source: Provided by Publisher

Goodreads Summary:

For the past five years, Hayley Kincaid and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own.

Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over? The Impossible Knife of Memory is Laurie Halse Anderson at her finest: compelling, surprising, and impossible to put down.

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The Impossible Knife of Memory (which I will now call The Impossible Knife because of its long name), was a surprising book.

When I first read the synopsis, I didn’t think that it was the book for me. It didn’t sound like something that would actually interest me. But, upon seeing so many glowing reviews for this book, I thought I should give it a try. I’m so glad I did!

The Impossible Knife starts off pretty slow for me because I couldn’t connect to Hayley at first. She was closed off and mean to people she didn’t know, she was quick to dish out the sarcasm (which is a trait I normally praise but in this case it got old sometimes), and she pushed away anyone who might want to help her. But, once she kept narrating and slowly peeling her mask away, I could see how complex and mature she was. Hayley was basically trying to hold everything together for the sake of her dad. She’s a seventeen year old who can’t do normal seventeen year old things in hopes that her life doesn’t fall apart. While I’m not in a situation like Hayley’s, I do understand what it means to hold everything together for the sake of your family. I understood her overall pressure to make her dad happy, even if it cost her own happiness.

“I needed to hear the world, but didn’t want the world to know I was listening.”

That’s Hayley in a nutshell. She cares so much, but can’t bring herself to show it, in case she gets hurt. I loved the complexity of her character. It was definitely one of the strongest points of this story.

Another character I really loved in this story was Finn. I wish I could just make the whole review about Finn just because he was so fun to read about. I think Finn appearing in Hayley’s life was one of the best things that could have happened. Despite all other books where introducing a romance is completely unnecessary, I feel like this book wouldn’t have been half as good as it was if it weren’t for the introduction of Finn. Finn is an adorable, geeky stud. He appeared in Hayley’s life to challenge her. He was Hayley’s wake up call.

“It’s not just tonight […] It’s everything. You take care of him more than he takes care of you. How much longer?”

And, of course, Finn won me over once he started throwing around math jokes and being his overall amazing, goofy self.

“I’m flirting with you, Miss Blue, flirting in the perfect language of calculus. It’s a sine I think you’re sweet as pi. Get it?”

 Other than Hayley and Finn, this book had amazing side characters that each put their own little part into the story.

Anyways, this book doesn’t only revolve around the characters, it also has wonderful and heart wrenching writing. The PTSD that Hayley’s father suffers from is presented in such a raw way. You feel as if he’s a ticking time bomb throughout the whole story and it’s definitely very compelling.

There were some chapters that were flashbacks of (what I can assume is) Hayley’s dad and his war experiences. We get to see how he slowly loses his feeling of “sanity” and how the PTSD slowly takes over his life.

I think that if I have to complain on something, it may be the ending. I wanted to see more closure! I wanted to see each and every character’s story arc have the closure I was expecting. Also, the ending was so disgustingly cute. Gah. It made my heart implode and play a cheesy melody on a violin. Yes, I liked it, but it gave me so many feels.

Overall, this is a book with a much darker theme than you’d be expecting in a YA contemporary book. Nevertheless, if you’re up for a compelling, surprising and emotional book, then you should definitely give this book a try.

Rating: 4.5 stars

it was really good

Big thanks to Text Publishing Australia for providing this copy for review! To purchase this book, visit their website, by clicking here.


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I'm Marianne. Professional Fangirl, part-time Blogger. Full-time college student. GIFs are a natural part of my posts, so be warned. I LOVE reading, so definitely feel free to discuss books with me. Opinions are welcome.
  • I’m glad that you liked The Impossible Knife of Memory. It was a wonderful book written by such a talented (and insanely cool) lady. Overall I found it to a very emotional read, but one that left me with a feeling of hope. Great review!

  • WOW this book actually sounds amazing, I was doubtful before but your review has convinced me! Hayley and Finn sound like some amazing, caring and heartfelt characters. Lovely review Marianne!

  • I think I am going to read this next. With so many on my list, sometimes I can’t decide! Great review, Marianne 🙂

  • This one sounds pretty intense, but then again Laurie Halse Anderson’s books are always intense. I’m glad the characterization was done nicely, as that’s one of the most important things for me, when reading a book. Glad you liked this 🙂 great review!