Title: The One Memory Of Flora Banks
Author: Emily Barr
Release: 12th January 2017
Genre: Thriller, contemporary, YA
Which animal is similar to this book? Okay I think I’ve already used giant pandas for a comparison with another book, but I’m using them again with this book for a different reason. This book broke my heart and it was tense and emotional throughout the entire story, and I was constantly expecting it all to go wrong. In a similar way, giant pandas were steadily going extinct, mainly because they’re so difficult to care for in captivity, and once their homes had been chopped down, there was no going back…However they do not help themselves to survive; for example, there isn’t a specific breeding season, they’ll only reproduce if they happen across another panda of the opposite sex. This is risky as it’s unlikely they’ll come across another. They’re also clumsy; it’s amazing how many have injured themselves from falling out of trees etc. and this again impacts their ability to reproduce meaning they were gradually dying out. To compare it to Flora, we have to watch pandas slowly kill themselves off purely because they don’t understand that they’re harming themselves which is so similar to reading as Flora puts herself in these situations which the reader likely knows is a mistake but she doesn’t see it because of her amnesia.
The blurb says: 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.
Wow. I won’t lie, when I first started reading this, I thought it was too heavy for me and I thought I’d got bored. But once I’d read a little more in, I started to really enjoy it and now I feel connected to Flora because ‘oh my god’ she’s amazing and so so strong. For someone who genuinely can forget when she returns from going to the loo mid-conversation, she’s incredibly strong. I feel like she would be going places in the real world.
Firstly, I loved the way it was written in her voice which was constantly changing. She developed the amnesia at the age of ten, so naturally her voice and her mindset is very immature for her age (seventeen) and being only a year older than her, it was easy for me to see the mistakes she was making and I found myself constantly stressed that she was doing completely the wrong thing. There are times she handled things in such a childish and just plain wrong way, and although I fully understand why she was doing it and where her logic was coming from, I felt very protective of her and just wanted to tell her to stop and think. Every now and then, she’d remember she was seventeen and force herself to think more maturely, and then she’d switch back to the childish thoughts, along with confused thoughts when she often didn’t remember where she was or who she was with. It was incredibly well-written.
The story started off quite normal and quite relaxed (considering the circumstances of the protagonist) but then it quickly became a lot more serious when she jetted off to Svalbard to chase after Drake. It was then that it became a lot more tense and a lot more eerie as she did things she shouldn’t have and was essentially completely alone away from her home and family. The ending was so well put together and tied everything up, but it was still a slightly creepy ending. I did love it though; it was very clever.
If you like thrilling stories, with that element of twists and turns throughout the story, you will love this! It’s so well told, so realistically written and has a good pace. 9 out of 10 paw prints from me!