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.
The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr was so good. Seriously, it was awesome. I loved it. I cannot stress that enough. Now, with that being said… the book also frustrated me to no end. It was perhaps the single most frustrating book that I’ve ever read. Ever. But, it was a good frustration. Mostly?
I guess I’m going to have to elaborate on this. If you read the synopsis of the book you’ll know that Flora, our main character, has a memory problem. She can’t remember anything past her childhood, and leaves notes for herself in pen on her hands so she knows what is going on (more or less). As you can probably imagine, reading about a character that can’t remember anything is incredibly frustrating, especially when reading from that character’s point of view. Since Flora doesn’t remember anything day to day she goes around in circles a lot, as she has to figure out what is going on every day. This gets repetitive, and tedious. BUT, and this is a big but, the author did such a wonderful job writing this. Honestly, it was perfectly written. So although it was frustrating, it was also kind of amazing. I don’t think that many authors could have done this good of a job writing this kind of character and story.
As for characters, I absolutely loved Flora. Her strength of character was admirable. Imagine waking up every single day of your life, and not recognizing the face staring back at you because you don’t remember growing up. The struggles Flora faces are immense, and were handled so well. As much as I loved Flora, there were a lot of characters that I didn’t love. I wasn’t a fan of Paige, Flora’s best friend. I also wasn’t a big fan of Flora’s parents (as much as one can dislike characters that were barely present). I did love Flora’s brother though!
The plot itself was the best part of the book. It was confusing, repetitive, unorganized, disjointed, surprising, and beautiful in a way that I can’t fully explain. The plot is fast paced, has a few unique twists, and stays interesting. I don’t want to say too much more about this book and give anything away, because I think it’s best to go in knowing as little as possible.
I really loved this one. I wish I could explain it better. If you love unreliable narrators, beautiful writing, disjointed, confusing, and frustrating (but in the most interesting and great way) then this book is definitely for you! It might not be for everyone, if you can’t handle repetitiveness or frustration then you might not like it. But personally I loved it and think that everyone should at least attempt to read it. 4.25 stars out of 5.