The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr. Review by Pheebs.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book: it had an interesting premise, about a girl with anterograde amnesia; meaning that she has not been able to make new memories since the age of ten, and therefore has to constantly remind herself of all recent facts with notes on her hands, on her arms and on paper sticky notes.
It was so incredibly immersive as, every couple of pages, Flora went through a routine of panic before finding a note that informed her of the situation. It proved an eye-opening experience of how reliant Flora has to be on her notes, and on how trusting she finds that she must be with her friends and parents; sometimes misplaced. There is a constant idea that her simplistic thinking puts her at risk, deriving from her having a mental age of a ten-year old child, when her brain was damaged and she developed amnesia.
Only the reader is aware of dangerous situations, not the character herself at all; and this feels so vivid to the reader that it is emotionally painful to imagine her in unmonitored and uncontrolled conditions, for fear of what may go wrong. This is explored in her relationships with her family, friends and even herself, to varying degrees.
But is this fragility validated? Flora puts it to the test when she acts on the one retained memory that she has formed beyond age 10: of a boy kissing her on a beach. When she seeks answers, all expectations are upended; and I did not and could not anticipate what happens next.
Flora shows that, when given a chance and an opportunity, the perseverance, determination and compassion in her personality can lead to the friendship of strangers, freedom and love – although never in the direction that one expects…
The overall message: when you don’t know who to trust, or what to do, just follow your heart, and be brave.
For information about Emily's workshop, please follow this link.