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The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson Review

Title: The Impossible Knife of Memory

Author: Laurie Halse Anderson

First published January 2, 2014

416 pages, Paperback

ISBN: 9780147510723 (ISBN10: 0147510724)

Rating: 3.91


In The Impossible Knife of Memory, Laurie Halse Anderson tells the story of Hayley Kincaid and her father, Andy, who have been on the run for years. They finally return to their hometown with the hope of a fresh start for Hayley.

However, their past haunts them, and Andy’s PTSD threatens to destroy everything they’ve ever known. As Hayley tries to navigate her new life, she finds herself falling for Finn, a mysterious guy with secrets of his own.

But will Hayley’s past and Andy’s demons get in the way of her chance at happiness? With her signature style, Anderson delivers a poignant and gripping tale that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

About the Author

Laurie Halse Anderson is a well-known author who writes for readers of all ages, including young readers, teens, and adults. She is a New York Times bestselling writer, having sold a whopping 8 million copies of her books so far.

Her latest memoir, SHOUT, which is written in verse, tells the story of how she survived a sexual assault at just thirteen years old. It is also a manifesto for the #MeToo era.

The book has received rave reviews and has been on the New York Times bestseller list for seven weeks straight.

Over the years, Laurie has been nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award four times. She has also been a finalist for the National Book Award twice, with her books Speak and Chains.

Chains was also short-listed for the prestigious Carnegie medal. Additionally, two more of Laurie’s books, Shout and The Impossible Knife of Memory, were long-listed for the National Book Award.

Her contributions to literature have been recognized with the Margaret A. Edwards Award by the American Library Association, and she has received honors from the National Coalition Against Censorship and the National Council of Teachers of English for her work fighting against censorship.

Laurie is a strong advocate for diversity in publishing and is a member of RAINN’s National Leadership Council. She lives in Philadelphia and enjoys writing while munching on cheesesteaks.

You can keep up with Laurie on social media by following her on Twitter at @halseanderson, Instagram at halseanderson, and Facebook at lauriehalseanderson, or by visiting her website, madwomanintheforest.com.

Editoral Review

Laurie Halse Anderson’s The Impossible Knife of Memory is a novel that delves deep into the heart and mind of a teenage girl struggling to come to terms with her past and present. The novel was first published on January 2, 2014, and fits into the young adult genre, dealing with themes of trauma, family, and mental health.

The novel follows Hayley Kincain, a seventeen-year-old student who has grown up on the road with her father, a veteran of the Iraq War suffering from PTSD. They have finally settled in her father’s hometown, where he hopes to restart his life and reconnect with his family.

Through Hayley’s eyes, we see the effects of her father’s trauma on their family and the struggles they face to find a new sense of normalcy. Along the way, Hayley develops a relationship with Finn, a classmate who is battling his own demons, and begins to confront the difficult truths of her past.

Anderson’s writing style is both raw and beautiful, capturing the complexities of trauma and mental illness with grace and humanity. The novel is heavily character-driven, with Hayley emerging as a fully fleshed-out protagonist who is relatable and sympathetic, despite her flaws.

Anderson’s writing shines in her ability to create authentic and nuanced characters as she explores themes of trauma, PTSD, family dysfunction, and the struggles of growing up. The Impossible Knife of Memory is significant in its portrayal of the effects of war and PTSD on military families, drawing attention to a social issue that is too often overlooked or stigmatized.

Through Hayley’s story, Anderson highlights the lasting impact of war on those who serve and their families, and engages a wider conversation about mental health and trauma. The novel’s only significant flaw is its occasionally uneven pacing, with some scenes feeling rushed or underdeveloped.

However, this does not detract from the overall strength of Anderson’s writing, which is taut and vivid. The novel’s themes and explorations will appeal to a wide audience, from teens to adults who can relate to Hayley’s struggles.

In conclusion, The Impossible Knife of Memory is an emotionally impactful novel that tackles complex issues with sensitivity and nuance. Anderson’s writing is raw, honest, and beautiful, with fully realized characters that are relatable and authentic.

The novel is essential reading for anyone interested in exploring the complexities of trauma, the effects of war, and the struggles of growing up in the modern world. It is a highly recommended read, deserving of a score of 4 out of 5 stars.