My 4.5* review:
I haven’t read an Emily Barr book for years, the first book of hers that I read was Backpack, a book that I loved back in 2001. After that, I read a few more books by the author but then she seemed to disappear under my radar and I actually thought that she had stopped writing. A look at the author’s page on Amazon tells me that she hadn’t disappeared at all.
I heard a bit about The One Memory of Flora Banks and when I realised who the author was I requested it to read on Netgalley and was happy to be approved. This was Emily Barr’s first book aimed at young adults, but as I enjoy reading that genre it didn’t put me off, and I hope that it won’t put you off either. When a friend told me how much she’d enjoyed this book I quickly bumped it up my tbr pile and I’m so pleased that I did.
Seventeen year old Flora is a wonderful character, she copes with short term memory loss by writing on her arms and hands, making sure that when she suddenly finds herself somewhere believing she is ten years old she can quickly see the information that she needs to know. As well as writing on her arms Flora has one tattoo, it says ‘be brave’ which becomes Flora’s moto and at times, her mantra.
Understandably, Flora’s mum is very protective of her but when Flora’s estranged brother is suddenly taken very ill in France her parents decide to leave Flora at home with her best friend while they go to be with him. Unknown to Flora’s parents, her best friend is no longer speaking to her after finding out that Flora had kissed her boyfriend at a party.
Suddenly alone in her house Flora appears to go slightly crazy. She remembers kissing the boy so clearly, yet she has no other memories at all after the age of ten. Believing that only true love would cause her to remember something she becomes obsessed with Drake and determined to find him, even though he is now at university in Norway. Flora proves to be remarkably resourceful and thanks to numerous post-it notes around her home she remembers to keep up the pretence to her parents that she is not alone and all is fine.
I loved the character of Flora, she is so strong and capable, it would be so easy to give up in her situation but instead she fights and she finds ways to get around her short term memory loss. The way that she is written is so believable and real, I have no idea how Barr managed to portray such a complex character so well.
Flora is clearly a special person, everyone she meets seems to be endeared to her and wants to help. This proves particularly useful when Flora manages to get herself to Norway, determined to find Drake. In a completely unknown and foreign world, Flora struggles, the constant daylight confusing her body as well as her mind and unlike home, where she has memories from before the age of ten, here she remembers nothing, relying on the writing on her arms to guide her. She meets some right characters along the way, they soon realise that there is something different about Flora, but they see her spirit and so endeavour to help her where they can.
I could go on and on about the book, the storyline and Flora but I don’t want to give too much away. The book is a joy to read, I just loved Flora’s fighting spirit and how with the help of other’s she is able to overcome her difficulties and fight against her mothers’ control. Flora really has to be one of my favourite ever characters in a book and I hope that I remember her for a long time. Be Brave might just become my new moto too.
I received a copy of The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr from Netgalley but I was under no obligation to review it.
The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr is out now and available from Amazon UK. In America, you can pre-order the book from Amazon US or it is available now on audiobook.
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.