Review: The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

Title: The One Memory of Flora Banks
Author: Emily Barr
Pages: 294
Genre: YA
Source: Free ARC from First to Read program

Rating: B-

Note: As stated under the Source (above), I received this book for free from First to Read program. I pride myself on writing fair and honest reviews.

Summary: Flora Banks is seventeen years old, but she can’t remember anything prior to the age of ten. She has anterograde amnesia, due to a brain injury, leaving her with no short term memory. To That is, until, the day she kisses a boy on the beach, a kiss that will stay with her, that will break her out of her mundane, claustrophobic life, and take her on an a life-changing adventure.

Review: The concept of this book was intriguing. A girl who can only hold onto short term memories for hours at a time, who has to relearn parts of her life every single day, who manages by writing notes on her body and in a notebook, just to be able to stay safe and get through each day. It’s difficult thinking about living that way. What kind of life is it really? What kind of future does she have to look forward to? The idea that someone with, what appears to be, such a serious limitation, could find a way to travel to the Arctic, safely and on her own? That’s a story I needed to read. And I’m so glad I did.

The great parts of this book were not just Flora herself, who is pretty amazing, but the people around her. I’m not sure how realistic it is, but it seems that whether in her hometown or in a little town in the Arctic, Flora manages to be surrounded by communities that see her worth and want to help her succeed. Who wouldn’t blossom with that kind of support?

However, I will say that I struggled with the way Flora was written. The story is in first person, and the writing is very stilted. I understand that Flora has memory loss and that the damage to her brain occurred when she was ten, but at no point are we given the impression that she is intellectually challenged. However, the way she is written, you would think she was much younger than ten or that her intellect had been negatively impacted as well as her memory. One could argue that it was because she was so medicated…and then I would argue that if she was that doped up a) she wouldn’t be able to function without full-time help and b) coming off them cold turkey would have led to serious withdrawal, and she wouldn’t have been getting out of bed, much loss hopping a plane to the Arctic. I’m not a doctor, just someone who takes similar meds, at a much lower dosage than it’s suggested she takes, and I know from personal experience, you can’t spend seven years doped up and then just stop without serious repercussions. It’s dangerous. I realize that would have messed up the storyline, but it bothered me.

And her parents…I don’t want to give away too much, but let’s just say, I don’t care what their reasons were, there should have been serious consequences for what they did. Intent only gets you so far.

All in all, I really did enjoy the book. The concept was unique, and it was nice to read something that was hopeful and painted the world at large (or at least small towns the world over) as a safe and understanding place, where the most unlikely people have a real chance at living a fulfilling life.

2 Replies to “Review: The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr”

  1. I’ve been umming and erring about this book – the concept is definitely intriguing… and I love YA contemporaries with happy endings. They are a great way to spend an afternoon at the beach. Think I might have to bite the bullet and give it a go. Thanks for posting your review. 🙂

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