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The Memory Thief: A Novel Paperback – March 12, 2010
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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From Publishers Weekly
Keener's uneven second novel (after The Killing Tree) is the soapy story of Hannah, raised by holy rollers, and the illegitimate daughter she is forced to abandon. When Hannah is a teenager, her parents move her and her adopted sister to James Island, S.C., where Hannah relishes her one freedom—exploring the island on the bike her father gives her. One day, while out on a ride, she sees a help-wanted sign for a cleaning lady at a motel. There, she meets the handsome Sam, a local football hero, but he's predictably full of empty promises and leaves Hannah pregnant and heartbroken, her pain compounded by her mother forcing her to give the baby away. Her daughter, Angel, faces torments of her own: raised in a broken home that she eventually torches, Angel is as lost as her mother. Though Keener tries hard to dig deep into her two protagonists as they meander toward reunion, Hannah and Angel never escape their clichéd circumstances. Still, like any cheesy drama, it will be difficult to put down by some. (Mar.)
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"In The Memory Thief, Rachel Keener has done a wonderful job of shadowing Hannah's story onto Angel's and vice-versa, until they converge into one. The Memory Thief is truly a luminous work of hope and ultimate redemption." (Deborah Johnson, author of The Air Between Us)
Top customer reviews
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What was not so good were the cheesy parts, like the main character often referring to "her mountain" rather than "the mountain/s" and an important part of the story is left unclear since the grandparents gave two different accounts of their daughter's death. There is another loose end not tied up at the end (don't want to give that away) but I think that actually would be a realistic outcome. Over all, it's a pretty good book.
The novel was full of pain and disappointment. It did this in a very well-written way, but just don't expect something light or happy. It did have a satisfying ending.
The characters were complex and realistic, and they dealt with realistic problems. The world-building was excellent, bringing the story alive in my imagination. The pacing was very good and so was how the author slowly revealed how the two stories (told in alternating chapters) came together at the end. Symbolism was subtly woven into the story.
There were some vague references to the "Christian sect" that Hannah's family belonged to and to their attending several churches (where the focus was on how different these people acted than those at her own church). It wasn't "preachy."
Sex was vaguely implied. There was some "he cussed" style bad language and a very minor amount of actual cuss words. Overall, I'd recommend this novel as well-written, fairly clean reading.
I won this book in a Twitter giveaway by the publisher.
Reviewed by Debbie from Genre Reviews
I was immediately pulled into the story. Angel and Hannah are such wonderful characters. The book is very well written and the story is sad and haunting. I knew the direction in which the story was heading, but it did not detract one bit from the journey. I did not want to stop reading, nor did I want the book to end. I love Southern fiction, so it was another plus for me that the book is set in the South.
I've put Ms. Keener's debut novel on my Wish list and can't wait to see what this very talented writer does next. Can't recommend it highly enough.
When Angel sets fire to her childhood home, it isn't the end-it's the beginning. Left with nothing but a few memories in her pocket, Angel escapes into the fields of tobacco, the only place she has ever felt safe. Hidden by those green-gold leaves, she sets her eyes on the mountains and believes someone waits for her there. Angel will do whatever she has to until she finds her. She longs to empty her pockets, hand over the answers to what became of her, and whisper, This is my story.
As Angel journeys toward the mountains, Hannah is struggling to tell her own story. The daughter of missionaries who follow the rules of a small and strict religious sect, modesty is prized above all else. Wearing floor length polyester skirts, and never cutting her hair, Hannah is forced to live a separate life from her peers. Until the summer her family moves to James Island, South Carolina. Slowly, Hannah begins to escape the confines of her strict upbringing, and soon makes a choice that will forever change the course of her life.
As these two women's paths connect, Hannah's past will prove to mean everything to Angel's future.
Sometimes as an (as of yet unpublished), writer I wonder if all the stories worth telling, have already been told. After reading The Memory Thief, I'm reminded that there are countless unique books waiting to be written, if one just has the imagination to conjure it and the skill to give it the words it deserves.
Rachel Keener writes from the heart in a convincing voice whether writing from the perspective of a girl living in heartbreaking poverty, or from the mind of someone going slowly insane. The voices of her characters are authentic, and the world she builds for them to live in feels as real as a memory.
Her writing itself is uniquely her own and overflowing with fresh imagery and original analogies you'll want to remember long after putting the book down.
I knew from Keener's first book, (The Killing Tree), that she would be a new author to watch, and her second book, The Memory Thief, only reaffirms that.