The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson
This book is unlike other titles I’ve read by Anderson, except in its brilliant and captivating writing. This story of an unusual family with unique hardships is headed by Andy Kincain, a veteran of several Middle East tours with severe Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. It’s so bad he has trouble keeping a normal job, and was a long distance truck driver for a number of years while his daughter Hayley travelled with him. He’s been “home schooling” her while on the road, but has decided that she needs to be at a real school for her senior year so he moves them back to his family home. Although Haley lived there as a young child, she has few memories of the time. Her plan in their new home is to keep Andy safe from his own drugging and drinking and nightmares. When he had one of his attacks, “the past took over. All he heard were exploding IEDs and incoming mortar rounds, all he saw were body fragments, like an unattached leg still wearing its boot, and shards of shiny bones, sharp as spears. All he tasted was blood.” No wonder the guy drank and used drugs to dull the memories! All Hayley is worried about is keeping things on a even keel at home. She’s not out to make friends or go to college,so when she meets Finn when is taken aback by their mutual attraction. Maybe it’s not too late to find some kind of “normal” after all.
This book was sensitive and compelling. Anderson does an amazing job with both the character of Haley and her father; readers will feel like they are a part of this dysfunctional family. I think readers who like stories about families, their problems and Laurie Halse Anderson in general will adore this title. I would not be surprised if it ends up getting nominating and winning a number of young adult book awards this year.