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Showing 1-10 of 84 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 217 reviews
on March 16, 2016
What impressed me most about this book:

*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. :)
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on November 30, 2014
"The Impossible Knife of Memory" (IKM) is very good, a 4.5 star rating. Hayley is a high school senior, somewhere in the Albany, NY area. She has been "home" schooled by her Dad, a haunted war vet suffering from worsening PTSD for several years. The quote marks because home was the cab of a tractor-trailer rig that Hayley and Dad rode for years until it became just one more job that he lost due to fights and/or drunkenness and/or whatever. So for the first time in years Hayley has classmates and teachers, and she's not dealing with it well. Missed homework, insubordination which leads to frequent detention, poor test results, etc. etc. But early on she slowly builds a relationship with classmate and neighbor Gracie, and through Gracie meets Finn, a bright, glib, persistent ex-swimmer who slowly gets under Hayley's skin.

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.
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on February 14, 2014
Truly, Laurie Halse Anderson's THE IMPOSSIBLE KNIFE OF MEMORY deserves much more than 5 stars....more like 10, just for starters. Wow. From the moment I started reading this book, I was hooked. After a day or two of reading small chunks, I couldn't stand it anymore; I couldn't put it down and I finally just kept reading until I finished it! This is a book that you will WANT to stay up late to read--if not all night. This is a book that will tear your heart out, but make you believe in Love and Life and Hope and the eternal power of the fact that no matter how bad things get in life, life does go on and we just have to hang on for the ride, doing the best we can--one day at a time.

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.
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on May 19, 2015
I had high expectations for this book, considering it's rave reviews. However, this book was definitely not something I'd recommend. The narrator, Hayley, was another one of those "special snowflakes" who thinks she's better than everyone else in her school for having read Slaughterhouse Five. She was annoying and had very little development throughout the book. The romance was certainly nothing new; girl doesn't want to be into guy, but girl and guy are together in the end. It really took away from the plot and was boring to read. In addition, the climax of the story was incredibly predictable, and I could see coming from a mile away. This storyline had a lot of potential, but it's almost like Anderson didn't even try. The text message conversations between Hayley and her friends looked like they were written by middle-aged adults and were no where close to how teenagers even text. In addition, a few important characters were not even mentioned at the end of the book as if they'd disappeared. This was not an enjoyable read, and I recommend not wasting your money
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on February 12, 2014
First let me say, I LOVE LAURIE HALSE ANDERSON!!! This book stopped my heart many times- the title was so key to Hayley and her father and their memories. Hayley and her Dad, Andy, have decided to settle down in his grandmother's house and try for a more normal life. Before this time, Hayley lived with her father's Post Traumatic Stress demons from many tours in Iraq. She has heard his screams in his dreams, listened to his horrible, horrible memories of Iraq and watched him over the years drink and drug himself, which has resulted in a dad she loves and hates. She is now almost eighteen, attending high school (for the first time) and she doesn't know any of the rules and social norms, since she has traveled in her father's truck and been homeschooled for much of her life. When she reacquaints herself with Gracie, her kindergarten classmate, she also becomes part of her group and with this association, comes Finn. Finn (according to Gracie is an awesome swimmer, hottie, and ubersmart) is a really nice guy who Hayley asks for a ride one day so she can rescue her father once again. As Finn and Hayley get to know one another, Hayley dares to hope that she can have a normal life that is not fraught with the agonizing drama that is her father. As Hayley is pulled once again into the horrors, she begins to remember and with these memories, she battles who she is (did she really want to through herself off the quarry ledge?)and asks herself, who does she really want to be and want for her future? A compelling story, I couldn't put it down, I loved Hayley and Finn and so will teens. This book will be enjoyed by boys and girls, librarians and teachers will be recommending this thrilling, hopeful read.
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on September 24, 2014
Since I write for a young adult audience, I read a lot of YA fiction. I recently read Laurie Halse Anderson's The Impossible Knife of Memory. Laurie Halse Anderson is one of my favorite young adult writers. In fact, one of the first YA books I read was her novel, Catalyst. The Impossible Knife of Memory lived up to my high standards. What I loved most about this book was the snappy dialogue between Hayley, the protagonist, and her eventual love interest, Finn. Their banter, which ranges from snarky/sarcastic to hilarious to poignant, hums with real-life teenage vitality. Teens do so love to take linguistic jabs at each other, and the dialogue perfectly captures that artful use of language. There is a deeper side to this story, too, the relationship between a veteran father suffering from PTSD and his teenage daughter. Haley's first person narration is interwoven with her father's flashbacks of his devastating war experience, allowing the reader a glimpse into the root of his suffering. The book is nuanced with themes of memory and trust and how to move on when you've hit rock bottom.
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on January 1, 2016
As expected with any Laurie Halse Anderson novel it is a constant page turner. Each character meticulously designed to draw you in and each chapter written with the intention of distracting you from the real world and bringing you to the edge of concern for each and every minute of the characters' lives.
As a teacher, this book reminds me that our students face difficult lives we know nothing about. As a woman, I am reminded of the roller coaster of emotion that was growing up and falling in love. As an American, I am proud and concerned for every veteran and their families.
Please keep on writing for us Ms. Anderson. I look forward with all of my heart to each of your novels!
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VINE VOICEon February 8, 2015
Book #15 Read in 2015
The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson (YA)

This was a great read by one of my favorite authors. Hayley is a senior in high school and has returned to public school after being homeschooled by her father for years while they were on the road with his working as a trucker. Hayley's father suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Hayley fears that he will harm himself. She ends up being more of the parent than child in the household. This book was a powerful read that immediately sucked me in; I read it in one day. I highly recommend it for both high school students and adults. Great read!

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on June 30, 2016
Anderson brings PTSD into a form a non-veteran can appreciate. It is beyond horrible, and to experience it from the viewpoint of a teen makes the story more touching and memorable.
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on March 23, 2016
This book. I am an adult child of a Vietnam veteran who suffered from war-related PTSD my entire life. This book is such an accurate picture of what it means to live in the world of an adult who himself lives in an alternate reality. The main character is so very relatable. I would recommend this book to all lovers of books, but especially to those who enjoy characters who remain resilient through adversity.
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