The Impossible Knife Of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson | Book Review




book synopsis Hayley hasn’t had the most normal of upbringings — she’s spent most of her time at the side of her dad, a veteran,  as he drove his rig for work but also as a way to escape his experience in Iraq. She didn’t go to school but rather learned from her dad and learned things on her own.  When her dad decides he wants to settle down in his old town and expects Hayley to go to high school, she’s cautiously optimistic that she’ll even be able to fit into a normal life and that this decision will help her dad’s PTSD. She finds out that she’s not so great with math and winds up in detention because teachers don’t appreciate her sass in correcting them when they are wrong. But she also meets Finn. And with Finn she has a chance at some semblance of normalcy as things with her dad become even shakier.

good books to readHuzzah! One of my 10 most anticipated 2014 releases delivered!! The Impossible Knife of Memory just solidifies, in my mind, why Laurie Halse Anderson is one of the best. I’ve read her YA and I’ve read her MG and I just really think she knows how to write a damn good story that always leaves an impression and always makes me FEEL something — not to mention that her writing is divine. The Impossible Knife of Memory was certainly no exception.

It’s definitely not a light and fun book as it tackles some difficult things but it managed to be balanced by Hayley’s humor and irreverent nature (seriously, girl is a firecracker!) and one HOLD-ON-TO-YOUR-BRITCHES-LADIES Finnegan Ramos. (I’ll get to Finn later but he’s tres PERFECT and worthy of swoons). It’s wounding to your heart in a subtle way that creeps up on you and then suddenly has you in a full-on headlock but also manages to soothe you with its bits of hope. As you learn about Hayley’s offbeat upbringing and see her dad struggling with his PTSD and drinking it just grips you even harder and definitely DOES NOT release you until the very end — oh GOD those last couple chapters killed me. You feel for Hayley at how she has to take care of him and how she feels so helpless because she knows he’s getting worse — you can just FEEL the burden of all this but also the love and concern and protectiveness.

I love books that have a focus on a a character’s relationship with their parent and typically the ones I point out are strong but this is one of those stories that paints such a real and stirring dynamic that is actually one of my favorites ever despite how hard it is to read sometimes because of the fractured nature of it. You want to shake Hayley’s dad so much because of  everything going on but you know he’s suffering from PTSD and needs help. Most of my emotions from this relationship came from watching Hayley interact with her dad and take care of him. We get these glimpse of her dad’s memories on random pages but honestly I didn’t feel like it lent much to my view of him like some of interactions and memories did. They just kind of left me feeling I could have done without them. Watching the love Hayley has for her dad and realizing that could not be enough to save him PAINED me.

Finn. I don’t really do the whole “book boyfriend” thing but he is the boyfriend I probably actually would have HAD in high school and I’m staking my claim on him now. He’s got that deliciously nerdy but totally cute thing going on, he’s funny and he’s so, so charming and genuinely sweet and caring. I love how he’s able to break Hayley’s walls down in the most charming of ways despite the fight she puts up being typical Hayley. One of my favorite scenes involves a non-date. Finn and Hayley’s relationship is one that I won’t soon forget because they were both two incredible fleshed out characters and from their very first interactions there was just this energy that I loved. It was playful and wonderful.

book reviewsThe way Laurie Halse Anderson delivers this story is just signature Laurie and it hits all the right notes. There’s a reason she’s one of the Queens of YA and I loved The Impossible Knife of Memory so much! It was powerful and stirring as Hayley settles into a huge transition living in one place with her father as he starts to come more undone because of his PTSD. Quiet, explosive and all around a spectacularly written novel. Also, FINNEGAN, YOU HAVE MY HEART. If you are a lover of realistic fiction that has just incredible depth, get this on thy list!

short book reviewImpossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

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Let’s Talk: Have you read this one?? Heard of it? If you read it, what did you think? Was Finn not the cutest ever? Did you bawl at that PART ( you know which one!!) like I did?? I honestly did not know what was going to happen at that point. How does this rank if you’ve read other LHA novels?

The Perpetual Page-Turner


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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. I almost didn’t read this, but I’m so glad I did because WOW, this book was GOOD. Seriously. The writing was phenomenal, and now I want to read all of Laurie’s book. (I read SPEAK and FEVER 1793 years ago, but I don’t remember enough to say much about them, except that they were good.) I think your review is pretty spot on. I loved Hayley’s personality, her father just sort of hurt me, and FINN FINNEGAN, I LOVED HIM. This book was not light, but he (and Hayley’s attitude, too) helped lighten it up somewhat. (That anti-date was one of the Cutest Things Ever.) I hope everyone reads this, because it shouldn’t be missed!

  2. I just keep hearing great things about this book!

    I’ve been wanting to read this ever since I learned about it, and I’m so glad it delivered–and more!

    I typically don’t read reviews if I haven’t read a book, but I feel like I just want to read all the amazing reviews about this book! I love Laurie’s writing because I love how she isn’t afraid to tackle big and ever-so-important issues. And she does it SO well. I’m interested to see how she handles the issues in this book, and I’m glad to hear that you really enjoyed it. I think I’d really love Finn too! 😉

    I hope to get my hands on this soon! Awesome review!

  3. I’m currently reading this book and I’m loving it so far. I completely agree with you. Laurie Halse Anderson is definitely one of the best!

  4. Wow! This sounds AMAZING!!! Definitely ordering it. Thanks for the review!

  5. I preordered my copy but it has yet to arrive, and your review only makes me even more excited and anxious to read it! I hope I enjoy it’s a much as you did! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  6. I’ve never read a Laurie Halse Anderson book … *runs away quickly* I’m thinking that’ll change soon though, because this sounds friggen amazing and I keep seeing this radioactively glowing reviews everywhere.

  7. I’ve been hearing nothing but praise for this book and I’m so glad! I really like the few Laurie Halse Anderson books that I’ve read, but I haven’t read as many of her books as I feel most people have. Some of them just don’t appeal to me on a story level, but this one definitely does.

  8. Must read this SOON. As always, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  9. Speak is probably my favorite book of all time, and I’ve also read Wintergirls by LHA. I need to read all her other books, but based on those two, I absolutely adore her writing. When I heard she had a new book, I got so excited. I was planning on making a trip to the bookstore this afternoon, and now I’m SURE I’m getting this book!

  10. For me, The Impossible Knife of Memory has been one of those books that I come across but for one reason or another, let it go unnoticed. So while there’s a chance that I may decide to finally go look for it because everyone has been wanting to read or is raving about, it doesn’t always happen. This why I’m glad I decided to finally get to know The Impossible Knife of Memory enough to want to read it as well. Moreover, I also don’t do the whole ‘book boyfriend’ thing so if you’re staking your claim on Finn the I definitely need to read this book and swoon (and cry, right?) over it.

  11. I have only ever read one book by Anderson. I need to do better and get to some of her other books one of these days.

  12. LHA is my favorite YA author!! So much so I wrote a paper on her YA contemporary novels during graduate school. 🙂 I had my fangirl moment when I got to meet her during ALA this past summer and was able to sit down and have a conversation with her. I am really looking forward to getting to see her again on Monday when she is in snowy Michigan for TIKOM tour! Happy Reading!

  13. I haven’t read this one yet! But after seeing what you had to say about it in your review, I’m mightily intrigued. What really comes across to me is that The Impossible Knife of Memory tells a story that is real, raw and can hurt and soothe you in many ways. Books like that may be difficult reads, but they’re also some of the best. I can’t wait to check this one out!

  14. Aw, I’m so glad to see this review pop up today! I haven’t read anything by LHA yet, but I’m going to see her at a signing event tonight because I *have* heard how amazing she is. This book sounds like it’s got a really good balance of sweetness and FEELS, which is actually just the kind of book I need right about now. From all the good things you said about it, I can’t wait to read it!!

  15. I love when a book you are anticipating is as good as you wanted it to be!

  16. I *must* read this book! I love me some LHA and I can only imagine how intricate and amazing this story is.

  17. I am so glad to hear that you liked it! I have heard nothing but rave reviews so far, so this book is definitely going on my ever-growing book list. I haven’t read any of LHA’s young adult books yet, but I adored her Chains series, so I hope this one is just as good!

  18. YES. I loved this book so much too. Finn is just amazing. And I am glad you understand. There a number of readers who decided he was evil incarnate and I totally do not understand that at all. His only failings are being a teenage boy, and he learns. I don’t get it.

    The non-date was AMAZING. So freaking cute.


  1. […] to her mom. I feel like this one is going to be one of those that guts me. I recently read The Impossible Knife of Memory and it was a situation where the teen had to take care of the parent (in that case it was PTSD) and […]

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