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Penguin Group (USA) LLC
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The Impossible Knife of Memory Kindle Edition
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|Length: 418 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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|Age Level: 12 and up|
|Grade Level: 7 and up|
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*LHA is a master of character. All her characters--primary and secondary--are vibrant and fully-fleshed-out. They are flawed and fierce and memorable. I especially loved Hayley's voice and observations, as well as how Finn was a spot-on representation of a teenage boy who was well on the path to being a feminist man/decent human (without a hint of preachiness from LHA). As a teen in real life, Hayley probably would have terrified me. As a protagonist, I was 1000% in her corner. And I loved the development of the dynamic between Hayley, her dad, and her dad's ex as the family spiraled toward crisis. It was authentic and painful and still full of hope--like the entire novel.
*LHA deftly captures a very real contemporary experience on both the small and large scale of this book. Whether it's passing mentions of fracking, rape culture, genocide (contemporary and historic), or the larger issue of teens growing up with parents who served overseas and are suffering from PTSD, the novel is steeped in now and the social awareness many teens have.
*The novel is excellently paced. Like dominoes or a chain of firecrackers, one thing leads to another and another, pulling you through the book.
Just read it. It's phenomenal. :)
But life for Hayley is not easy. Frequent flare-ups with her Dad, and then one of his ex-girlfriends returns, and Hayley, once again, is not at all pleased with that. But there are also happy moments with Finn, but they don't last long before another crisis flares up. Things finally reach the boiling point....
The IKM characters are the book's great strength. They are likeable, real, well drawn. Lots of tension and a very good storyline. Nice relationship between Hayley and Finn; a strong physical attraction between the two but Hayley draws the line. And that is exactly where too many YA books fail. Authors too often patronize their targeted audience, creating an environment where "everyone IS really doing it", but thankfully not here. But the pressures and the tensions and the desires are there, and dealt with. This is the area which the really excellent YA books (like "Eleanor and Park" and IKM) handle well.
The only criticism I have of IKM is that once again in YA fiction, parents are MIA. There are no adult role models here. Obviously, Hayley's Dad situation is central to the plot and real, but other parents and teachers in the book just don't have their heads screwed on right. After sex, it is that portrayal that too many YA authors exaggerate which one suspects is only about building a faithful audience for future books. But lots of books go way beyond IKM in that regard and so it's still a 4.5 in my books and I'll read more by Laurie Halse Anderson.
I love so much about THE IMPOSSIBLE KNIFE OF MEMORY. Yet it's difficult to say that this is a great book because the subject matter is so difficult and powerfully heart-wrenching. While I am not a soldier who has seen the horrors of war, I am a woman who has SUFFERED horrors of life. I understand the coping mechanisms that drive people to do things they never would have done if they hadn't SUFFERED the things they've suffered.
Hayley is an incredible young woman who simply wants LIFE with those she loves around her yet she fights on a daily basis to keep a tenuous grasp on LIFE. She is stumped by normalcy, including school and dating while being drawn to normalcy as a moth to a flame.
Like Anderson's book SPEAK, THE IMPOSSIBLE KNIFE OF MEMORY is a book that will be with you long after you close the book. This book is sure to become an instant classic and be at the top of any avid reader's reading list and is definitely added to my list of books I suggest that EVERYONE read....Truly.
What are you waiting for? Do you need a copy of the book? I'll loan you mine, but you have to promise to give it back to me as soon as you finish.
Then again, you might as well buy your own copy because you're going to want a copy of your own.....Seriously.