Monday, June 25, 2018

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

written by Emily Barr
published by Penguin Teen Canada

What an amazing read! I am not normally a fast reader, and wasn't really what one would call fast when I read this book, but I read the entire book in one sitting, very unusual for me. Flora Banks was a healthy, happy young girl in the early part of her life, but it all ended when she was ten. I have always been interested in stories that have a medical background running through it. Why would everything stop when she was ten when she is seventeen now? There is definitely a story here that will prove to be very interesting and very surprising. There is obviously going to be something unique in its structure and in Flora's life. She has a tattoo, she's had it since she was ten, it is on her hand and says FLORA, be brave; very strange for a child that age. But Flora is not five, she is seventeen! She is at a party, it says so on her arm. She and Drake kissed on the beach and she remembers, she's never remembered anything for any length of time, but this she remembers longer than any other thing. Unfortunately Drake is her best friend Paige's boyfriend but he is moving to Norway to study in the frigid north. But why is she like this? What happened when she was ten?

According to her notebook, which is not in her handwriting, Flora can not retain the memory of anything within an hour or possibly less. (Until Drake kissed her on the beach, that's a memory she has partially retained but won't write in the book.) The notebook tells her she had a tumor and it was removed causing her to lose memories of the present. She has Anterograde Amnesia. But does she? Something doesn't sit right. When her parents are called to Paris because her brother is ill, they assume her friend is coming to be with her, not realizing that her friend is angry with her and not a friend anymore. As a result, Flora, having found her passport and money is on her way to North Pole in Norway to visit Drake, so she decides. With Drake in her mind she is remembering, she is not losing the memory. Will she find him? Will she be able to get herself halfway around the world with her memory problems? What is so frightening about traveling? Why didn't her parents take her with them to see her brother in Paris? Why does she want to go to Flambards? Why are her parents so against it? So many questions in this book. The ending took me by surprise, though it shouldn't have. It is in the background of the "memories" and the notes on her arms, post-it notes, and notebook. Why won't her parents take her to a favourite place? This is an incredible story of loss, fear, sadness, lies, over-protection, self-blame, angst, confusion, joint effort between Jacob her brother and Paige who is her best friend, to free Flora from her trapped brain. So much sorrow, angst and need. Did Flora ever get real comfort? Her biggest support will come from the dying brother Jacob and her friend Paige. FLORA, be brave.

As said earlier, I usually take longer to read a story but I was so into it, and I admit to a bit of confusion and occasional lapses while reading, leading to distrust. This is a book I will read again, and a great book club story in my opinion. So, now, what is the real reason for the subterfuge. It is listed as Young Adult, which I consider absolutely correct, Flora is seventeen - now eighteen.

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