A wonderful book. I defy you not to fall in love with Flora Banks. 5 stars.
Thank you to Penguin and NetGalley for giving me an e-copy of this book for review.
The One Memory of Flora Banks will be published on 12th January.
The blurb: Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora’s brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora’s fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.
With little more than the words “be brave” inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must “be brave” if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.
Regular readers of my blog will know I’m miserly with my 5-star ratings. In 2016 I read and reviewed 117 books and gave only 3 of them 5 stars. This makes me feel that when I come across a book I want to give 5 stars, I should be able to set off sort of klaxon, write “ALL OF YOU READ THIS NOW!” and that should be enough.
But that would be a bit lazy, wouldn’t it? 😉
I was about twenty pages into this book when I started to suspect it would be a 5-star read. Why? In one word: Flora. In Flora Banks, Emily Barr has created a heroine you don’t feel able to abandon and, more importantly, you don’t want to. For while her inability to retain memories makes her vulnerable, it also makes everything she does incredibly brave and bold.
I spent parts of this book cringing and biting my nails. Other I wanted to jump up, punch the air and cheer. Mostly, I wanted to climb inside the pages and give Flora a hug. Not only because she was often alone and understandably frightened, but because she was adorably adventurous, determined and hopeful.
The author’s first-person portrayal of a mind unable to retain memories of anything more than a few hours is terrifying, heart-breaking, exhilarating and frustrating. It gives the story a thriller-like edge and makes us intimately complicit in all Flora’s actions. After all, when her parents leave her alone, the one person who stays with her through everything is you, the reader.
I won’t say anything else about the plot of this brilliant book because I think you’ll enjoy it all the more for knowing as little as possible in advance. Just know that if you’re looking for a character-driven story with a fantastic central heroine, you should get yourself a copy asap.
Overall: please, please don’t think because this is billed as Young Adult fiction it’s not for you. However old you are, read this book, fall in love with Flora Banks, remember her name and pass the word on.
Claire Huston / Art and Soul