Books

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

I was in two minds as to whether to review this one. When I first got the email giving me information about it, it was described as a “chilling young adult debut”. I like chilling.

But then I read the blurb, and it seemed like it might be a bit too romantic for my tastes:

Flora has amnesia. She can’t remember anything day-to-day: the joke her friend made, the instructions her parents gave her, how old she is. 

Then she kisses someone she shouldn’t – and the next day she remembers it.

It’s the first time she’s remembered anything since she was ten.

But the boy is gone.

I look at my hands. One of them says
FLORA be brave

If you read that and thought “Oh, another girl-meets-boy, boy changes girl’s life young adult novel”, then rest assured that so did I. I have nothing against people reading love stories if that’s what gets them going, but frankly they make me want to puke.

The One Memory of Flora Banks, however, is not actually a romance novel.

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr
The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

Yes, she does remember the kiss with the boy, and she does think about it quite a lot in the course of the book, but that’s not the central premise around which everything else rotates.

In Flora, Emily Barr has built a character who is so flawed that she’s pretty much perfect. Anterograde amnesia means she can’t remember anything that happened after she was ten years old. She writes everything down – on her hands and arms, in notebooks, on post-it notes – to try to help herself through life.

She can remember the people she met before she was ten – her parents, her brother, her best friend – but no one else.

So why can she remember the boy?

It’s more of a story about the meaning of life, and what it is to be human, and what it’s like to be a teenager trying to break free of your parents’ hold on you, than it is about a girl meeting a boy and falling head over heels.

I decided to start reading it last night when I got home from rehearsal, which was about midnight. I thought I’d just read a chapter or so, to see what it was like, and then I’d go to bed. And then suddenly it was 2am and I’d closed the final page.

It’s a very good book. I highly recommend it.

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr came out on the 12th of January in paperback and audiobook, priced £7.99. It is also available as an ebook, if you like that sort of thing.

The One Memory of Flora Banks was sent to me by the publisher for review. All views are my own.

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