The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr
Published by: Penguin
Format: ARC e-book
Note: We received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
On the cover of a sampler I received of this book, is the little sticker ‘The YA Debut of 2017′. That’s a big claim to make and a lot to live up to, but I definitely see how The One Memory of Flora Banks lives up to that claim, after finishing the whole thing and needing to sit in silence for a second to absorb what I’d just read. It was powerful, it was special and one I can’t wait for other people to read!
P L O T
When Flora was ten, she had surgery that removed part of her short term memory. She can remember everything perfectly up until she was ten, but from then onwards, she relies on the notes she writes herself to remember everything important that happens. The most important thing to happen to her is that she remembers kissing Drake. It doesn’t matter, for the moment, that he’s her best friend’s boyfriend. Love has fixed her. OR has it?
When I read the blurb, I was a little worried that this book would fall into the same trap that Finding Audrey found itself tangled up in, with the suggestion that romantic love is a cure-all for mental illness. The One Memory of Flora Banks may first appear that way, but in reality, this isn’t the case and I was so relieved.
Flora decides, while her parents are in France to see her brother, Jacob, in hospital, to go to Norway in search of Drake, who’s moved there for university. It’s an adventure, one she’s not entirely sure she’ll survive but if Flora is anything, it’s determined!
There was something about the plot progression that made me feel constantly nervous. I was worried what was going to happen to Flora if she forgot something important, if something terrible happened to her with no-one looking out for her, but mostly I felt pity and sympathy for her situation. She’d fallen hopelessly in love with a boy and was going across the earth to find out if he felt the same way.
When she got to Norway, I started to relax as she met some lovely people that wanted to look out for her, but the way I was feeling towards Flora was exactly the kind of thing she wanted to escape from, and watching her do that, to varying degrees of success made me both panicky and proud.
S T Y L E
I loved how the writing style reflected her memory loss by always summing up what had happened in the previous chapters. Repetitiveness is usually a bad thing to say about a book, but with this it did wonders to build the atmosphere of confusion and clarity at the same time.
Flora was also an unreliable narrator, in the fact that if she forgot something, you wouldn’t hear about it until someone else told her. This was so unique, and kept me wondering about Flora’s capabilities, although I could never really trust what was going on.
I’m going to try and explain the reading experience with an analogy: You know how in the shower, when you’re all intoxicated by your nice marshmallow body wash and suddenly, you get this epiphany about the your mental health or what your place is in the world? (If you don’t just go with me on this one.) That’s how I felt the whole time I was reading this book.
C H A R A C T E R
Flora was such a beautiful character to read about. As her story slowly unravels and you learn more about her friendship with Paige, the relationship with her brother and the thought processes of her parents, her caged life seems unjust. She’s a girl that wants to go on adventures, and I was definitely siding with Jacob the whole way through that she should be allowed to exist authentically as herself, rather than as a drugged zombie with a foggy mind and no sense of self.
Her tattoo, ‘be brave’ was a constant reminder throughout the book to her (and me, I couldn’t help but be inspired too!) that as long as you believe in yourself, you’re capable of anything and that was something super sweet to read.
V E R D I C T
This book had me in tears by the end of it. The climax of Flora’s story is heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time, managing to hit you right in the feels no matter which way you turn. This was such an accomplished story, jammed packed with content, for a YA debut, and I’ll now be recommending it to everyone I know. My final words on the subject?
Refreshing, addicting and slightly overwhelming, The One Memory of Flora Banks is definitely a book I won’t be forgetting any time soon!