Title: The One Memory of Flora Banks
Author: Emily Barr
Published: January 12th 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: Purchased Paperback
Book Blurb (Goodreads):
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.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going into this book. The only reason I bought it is because it was on the table of Buy One Get One Half Priced books at Waterstones and I already owned the vast majority of the other books there. When I noticed it would be on my TBR for this month I figured it was a short enough book that I could knock it out fairly quickly like most of my contemporary reads. I wasn’t wrong, I read it practically in a single day.
I expected something more horrorish from the prologue. Flora is running away from a cabin, something terrible has happened. It ramped me up a little and then the story fell into a generic contemporary where Flora travels to distant places to find the boy she loves. Granted, there are some excellent twists where it isn’t quite as it seems, but I was a little disappointed that my expectations from the prologue weren’t correct.
I found the narrative to be quite tiresome to follow. I understand that its repetitive nature is due to Flora’s memory loss and that she needs to constantly remind herself but I found it a little irking to be constantly reminded myself. It was a very interesting insight into the way a person’s mind could work if they did have to live with such a short term memory, believing it was still seven years ago and constantly finding out that it isn’t.
While I enjoyed this read, I don’t think it would be for everyone. The main reasons that I rated it so highly was because of the twists that I hadn’t expected. They were a nice surprise to have at the end of the book when you’re starting to question things a little and you’re not sure what is true or not. I wasn’t overly fond of any of the characters, not even Flora, but they weren’t terribly written. I just didn’t find anything to like about them.
I would say this was a middle of the road read with some good twists that bumped it up.
About the Author
Emily Barr worked as a journalist in London, but always hankered after a quiet room and a book to write. She went travelling for a year, writing a column in the Guardian about it as she went, and it was there that she had an idea for a novel set in the world of backpackers in Asia. This became Backpack, which won the WH Smith New Talent Award. She has since written eleven more adult novels published in the UK and around the world, and a novella, Blackout, for the Quick Reads series. Her twelfth novel, The Sleeper, is a psychological thriller set on the London to Cornwall sleeper train.
In 2013 she went to Svalbard with the idea of setting a thriller in the Arctic. The book that came out of it was The One Memory of Flora Banks, a thriller for young adults, which attracted universal interest from publishers before being bought pre-emptively by Penguin earlier this year. It will be published globally in January 2017.
She lives in Cornwall with her partner and their children.
*Biography from Goodreads