This book is such a delight to read! I enjoyed the storyline, the characters, the development, and the unique plot points and character arcs that the author brought to the genre.
The Memory Book is about Sammie, a graduate at the top of her class who is destined to move to New York next year for college. But then she’s diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder and the doctors say that she will slowly start to forget things. She’ll start to unravel. She’ll lose her bearings and her health will start to fail.
They tell me that my memory will never be the same, that I’ll start forgetting things. At first just a little, and then a lot. So I’m writing to remember.
So Sammie starts writing everything down, like a diary, and that’s what this book is – an honest, raw, heartbreaking but thoroughly enjoyable tale of Sammie’s transition from healthy to unhealthy. Sammie writes notes to herself. Things to remember, things to forget. She writes about things that confuse her and things that she doesn’t want to admit to her parents, who are becoming over protective and are very worried about her. And slowly, the reader begins to see Sammie’s promise and intelligence disappear. At times she reverts back to her childhood, and at other times she suddenly becomes lost and can’t work out where she is.
Lara Avery has written this book extremely well, because it’s not a book that evokes tears. As the reader, you feel sorry for the character, but you don’t cry for her and you’re not torn up about it. And this isn’t a bad thing – it’s deliberate. Because the illness is not the focal point of Sammie’s life. So many other things are. She needs to work out what is important to her and who is important to her. She finally begins to understand that school and grades aren’t everything and that friendship and family and support are. She grows so much in the short time that she’s sick, and the friends she once had and the boyfriend she comes to love suddenly don’t seem to be as important as they should be. And these things show the reader that this book is very different to other young adult novels. It tests the boundaries and it challenges the reader and it takes a very serious subject matter and presents it in a different way.
The characters in this novel are wonderful. Sammie’s family are delightful and energetic, and Sammie’s friendship with Cooper is refreshing. Stuart, the brilliant young writer who is home for the summer, plays the love interest in the book, and although he’s a little one dimensional and at times unrealistic, he allows Sammie to grow as a character and allows the reader to recognise other aspects of her life other than her illness. And he is a supportive, lovely guy, which is always nice to read about instead of the stereotypical male characters in young adult novels whose true selves are revealed throughout the novel and they’re actually horrible people.
I really enjoyed this novel, and I’d easily recommend it to anyone. It’s heartbreaking but funny, interesting and entertaining, and it’s easy to read in one sitting.