Book review: The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

Flora is a seventeen year old girl with amnesia. She doesn’t remember anything since her accident for more than a few minutes. Until she kisses a boy the night before he leaves for the Arctic. A boy that just happens to be her best friend’s boyfriend. Flora knows he is the key that will unlock her memory, so armed with a few self-written notes on her arm and her rules for life, she embarks on an adventure that she hopes will change everything.

I actually finished this book a few months ago, but it’s taken me this long to write a review because I couldn’t really decide how I felt about it. It is another in a string of books I’ve read recently that didn’t go the way that I wanted them to. I’m beginning to worry I have really bad taste in storylines!

I love the premise of The One Memory of Flora Banks. Amnesia is such a fascinating and heart breaking subject. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to start from the beginning every day of your life and have to be reminded about who you are. I actually found it really hard to read the sections where Flora struggles to reconcile the seventeen year old self she sees in the mirror with the ten year old she expects to see. The childlike simplicity with which Flora thinks about everything makes her really endearing and her desire to grow up and experience life is something that we can all relate to. If found myself really rooting for her and I couldn’t stop smiling when I realised that this isn’t Flora’s first adventure.

On the other hand, I kept feeling like the story just wasn’t realistic. And I can’t quite put my finger on why. I mean, I’ve read books about vampires, faeries and talking skeleton detectives that have all felt more real than this, so it can’t be the situation itself. There was something missing that just meant that I wasn’t completely absorbed and so picked up on the less likely events. To me, there were quite a few.

And yet, the turn that I would have wanted the book to take might be even less likely as a real world situation! I wanted everything to be more dark and traumatic; there were hints of this towards the end and I started to get excited, but it all just fizzled out into a nicey, nicey, happy family again. Ugh!

Overall, I really loved the idea but the finished article was too superficial without any real exploration of the characters and how they have dealt with severe traumas, and this in turn stopped me from fully connecting with them and the book.

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