The Impossible Knife of Memory

Laurie Halse Anderson. Viking, $18.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-670-01209-1
As in Speak, Anderson provides a riveting study of a psychologically scarred teenager, peeling back layers of internal defenses to reveal a girl’s deepest wounds. Her heroine, 17-year-old Hayley, is no stranger to loss. Her mother died when she was small, and she was later abandoned by her father’s alcoholic girlfriend. Now the only family Hayley has left is her father, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, whose horrific flashbacks have brought chaos into their lives. After traveling the country in a “dented eighteen-wheeler,” the two of them have settled down in her father’s hometown. Hayley feels like an outsider at a high school populated by “zombies,” and, at home, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to pretend that her father is getting better. Then Hayley is drawn to Finn, a boy who seemingly likes her for who she is. Hayley’s anxiety about her father’s unpredictable behavior reverberates throughout the novel, overshadowing and distorting her memories of better times. It’s a tough, absorbing story of the effects of combat on soldiers and the people who love them. Ages 12–up. Agent: Amy Berkower, Writers House. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/21/2013
Release date: 01/07/2014
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