Contemporary Conversations, Reviews, ya contemporary

ContempConvos: The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson


Goodreads Summary:

For the past five years, Hayley Kincain and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own.

Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over? The Impossible Knife of Memory is Laurie Halse Anderson at her finest: compelling, surprising, and impossible to put down.


Welcome to something that Kayla and I like to call Chat Style Book Reviews, but as you will see… It’s more like a discussion. We had tons of fun with this and I hope you find reading this as much fun as we had writing it. So that you can know who is writing what, I have given each of our parts different colors. I am the Red Violet text and Kayla is the Royal Blue text.


Dear Lord where do I start? THAT BOOK AND ITS FEELS. I’ve always loved Ms. Anderson’s books and this is no exception. All I can think is… FINN. AND THAT HE IS HISPANIC. AND HIS LAST NAME IS RAMOS. AND THAT HE IS FIIIIIIINE. Okay, Kayla… a little help here!

FINN RAMOS. I really am of no help here because FINNNNNN. I’m pretty sure that name is magical, just like Rowan. Every single character that I’ve read about with the name “Finn” (or Finnegan – even better) is a favorite of mine. So – new resolution: if I have two sons, they will be Finn and Rowan. So it is written, so let it be done. BUT ANYWAY…

Damn it. I’m still speechless. What did I love, besides the Finn? 1) Hayley’s prickliness. I really liked her narration, even if it was grating at times. EVERYTHING about Anderson’s writing screamed of Hayley’s mental status. Even without her voicing her problems and putting them into black and white terms, I just KNEW she was struggling. And the way she described her panic attacks was like YES I GET IT. I just wanted to wrap her up and keep her safe forever.

OMG I know. At first I found it too perfect for her not to be struggling and then when we started getting those glimpses I was like CRAP. She too is experiencing what her Dad is, just in a different way. While she doesn’t remember, her Dad remembers it all. I think both remembering and not remembering are equally devastating.

Something I really liked was that Ms. Anderson totally showed us that someone can change. We can see it in her once upon a time step mom. She might have added to Hayley’s trauma, but she came back and tried to help both of them. She got her act together and changed. I love it when they give us hope because we all need it. We need to see that people do change, but only if they are willing. That is the key.

Ahhh her step-mom. I was totally with Hayley when she came back, but once I stopped thinking as Hayley and started thinking as an outsider, I really saw how much she truly had changed. The mini-redemption-arc was a great touch to the book, because it also tied in with Hayley’s journey toward healing.

Speaking of healing arcs – Hayley’s dad. I was so thrilled by the fact that there wasn’t an HEA. Does that sound awful? I’m just ecstatic that it wasn’t like a “oh they’re magically better” sort of moment. Mental illness is hard work to get through, and a single epiphany won’t make it go away. But the fact that there was so much hope in the end – that even though Hayley and her dad will both still struggle, they’ll still be okay – I just needed to see that message.

No, it doesn’t sound awful. I too liked that we were given hope for a better future instead of a happily ever after because in real life, we see hope and most of the time not an instant happily ever after.

Overall, The Impossible Knife of Memory is a book I think we will both cherish for what’s its worth and its message, and I am absolutely glad we read it together. I suggest you all take a moment and go to a bookstore and pick this book up. It will change your life. Amen sister!


Vero: 5 out of 5

Kayla: 5 out of 5


4 thoughts on “ContempConvos: The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson”

  1. FINN. I remember him and his adorable math puns ❤
    I definitely really like the arc of her dad's really slow healing as well- and I thought the PTSD flashbacks were really powerful. They were quite jarring, and it was kind of like Anderson was simulating the actual flashbacks, if you get what I mean.
    Great discussion guys!

    1. I know! I loved his puns too. So Adorable. And yes, I get exactly what you mean. Anderson is so talented, especially because she can right things like that. Amazing really.

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