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The Memory Book Hardcover – July 5, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Overachieving senior Sammie McCoy has her life clearly laid out. First, bring her debate team to victory at Nationals, then deliver her speech as valedictorian, and make the move to NYU to study economics and public policy before moving on to Harvard Law. Her plans get radically interrupted when she is diagnosed with Niemann-Pick Type C, a rare genetic disease that will initially affect her memory, rendering her vigorous studying moot, and that is ultimately fatal. Determined to fight the diagnosis, Sammie begins keeping a diary, figuring that when her memory fails her future self, she will have a way to reference her day-to-day life. Sammie's voice is a bright, relatable, and uncompromising one, and when her inevitable decline begins, readers will be surprised and pained by it, right along with the book's fiercely undeterred protagonist. Strengths abound in Avery's touching novel, and Sammie's relationships, both friendly and romantic, are no exception. Not knowing how to deal with the revelation of her illness, the teen's closest friend, Maddie, pushes her away, and the protagonist's relationships with gifted writer Stuart Shah and boy-next-door Cooper are intensified by her decline, in what feels like a genuinely complicated manner. VERDICT Fans of John Green's work and Jennifer Niven's All the Bright Places will be reaching for the tissue box at the book's tear-inducing end.—Joanna Sondheim, Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School, New York City
* "Sammie's voice is a bright, relatable, and uncompromising one...Strengths abound in Avery's touching novel, and Sammie's relationships, both friendly and romantic, are no exception...Fans of John Green's work and Jennifer Niven's All the Bright Places will be reaching for the tissue box at the book's tear-inducing end."―School Library Journal (starred review)
* "Avery (Anything but Ordinary) crafts an emotionally charged story about a young woman who has kept her eyes trained on the future, only to learn that all she has is now...Avery's novel stands out for its strong characters, a heartbreaking narrative that shifts to reflect Sammie's condition, and a love story that will leave many readers in tears."―Publishers Weekly (starred review)
* "Avery brings an emotional honesty to Sammie's narrative.... Teens will be inspired by Avery's heart-rending story about a special and intelligent young woman coping with a devastating disease--a story buoyed by the strong love of family flowing through Sammie's narrative and by an exquisite love story in which Sammie experiences happiness with Coop."―VOYA (starred review)
"Avery (A Million Miles Away, 2015) balances humor and devastating sadness perfectly. Sammie's voice is sympathetic but not pitiful as she relates her hopes for the future and thoughts on the past...a story of self discovery that's hard to put down."―Booklist
"A worthy foray into the smart-dying-teen territory of John Green et al...a story that invites empathy, awareness of a tragic disease, and self-reflection for those who still have memories to make."―BCCB
"[A] heartfelt, funny and bittersweet new novel...a memorable read, indeed."―BookPage
"Things you will probably experience while reading this wonderful book: gut-wrenching hope, ugly-crying, the joy of finding beautiful moments in the midst of difficult times. Enjoy."―Adi Alsaid, author of Let's Get Lost and Never Always Sometimes
"Lara Avery's brilliant novel about a girl who learns that her life might be ending--just when it feels like it's finally getting started--will open your heart and very possibly break it. Fierce Sammie McCoy is an unforgettable heroine, and as soon as I closed this book, I started to miss her. I still do."―Emily Raymond, co-author with James Patterson First Love
"In Sammie McCoy, Avery has created a character that completely vibrates with energy. And Sammie's so wicked smart, you almost believe she will overcome everything. But that's not what this book's about. At some point possibility ceases to matter and Avery shows us to love all we already have. Such a moving read."―Geoff Herbach, author of Stupid Fast and Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders
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Top customer reviews
This book takes you through the senior year and beyond of Sammie as she finds out she has npc (a form of dementia). Before her diagnosis, she has such a bright future. Sammie will be the valedictorian of her class and heading off to college in the fall. She is able to make her valedictorian speech, but her illness relinquishes her to staying home where they are sure she can get the medical attention she will eventually need.
During this time, her long time crush Stuart shah shows interest in her and by all points and purposes is absolutely perfect throughout the entire book. He loves her unconditionally, but in the end, the timing is just not right for their relationship, but in the meantime, her longtime friend cooper shows his loyalty and love for her when she needs is most.
I won't ruin the end, but it's a heartbreaker!
ONE WORD: Special
Probable high school valedictorian and debate champion, Sammie has a secret. She suffers from Niemann-Pick C, a degenerative condition similar to Alzheimer's. In an effort to help her remember, she writes a journal to Future Sam of important people and life experiences.
Lara Avery penned this unique story, told in short journal entries mostly by Sammie, but also by her friends and family. Sam is amultidimensional character, socially awkward, self-centered, stubborn and courageous she fights for the future of which she's dreamed while confronting a present that's a losing battle. As her condition deteriorates, her journal entries contain misspellings and improper grammar. She's perfectly imperfect in her struggles and sometimes selfishness.
Avery masterfully made me laugh, cry and feel for not just Sam, but her friends and family. I understood the anger Maddie, her debate partner/friend felt and was glad she didn't give Sam a complete pass, just because she was sick. Maddie understood but still recognized she deserved to be treated with a modicum of consideration and respect. I loved how Sam had a close relationship with her imperfect parents.
The ending, while predictable felt a bit too quick for me and would have liked to have a bit more time to digest and process.
THEMES: death, illness, school, friendship, family, dating
THE MEMORY BOOK is a heartfelt story of hope and optimism in the face of impending death.
This is a novel of living and thriving without knowing what will happen even minute to minute. It is also a story of living in the face of death.