Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Book Review: The One Memory of Flora Banks

Over the past few months I’ve started reading more and more regularly; the cover of this book really caught my eye, with the ripped white paper effect against the metallic blue background and so I decided to give it a ago as generally I love Young Adult fiction. As the title suggests, Flora is suffering from Amnesia and so although she is seventeen years old, she believes that she is ten as that’s the only part of her life that she can properly remember. She can do basic tasks, like cook, clean, wash etc. But her short term memory is nothing short of abysmal, often forgetting events that have happened only hours before. Her best friend, Paige is constantly her companion and to an extent, her carer aside from her parents. Although this is a YA novel, a lot of the time it seems like a child’s book because the writing style is very simple. I suppose that is due to Flora believing that she’s ten years old as she is the sole narrator, but it was slightly irritating at times.

Flora has a sudden shock when she has a memory, a recent memory that seventeen year old Flora can remember; a memory that is able to remind her of her true age, rather than how old she remembers being. This is an incredible thing because Flora doesn’t remember things, that’s the whole point of the story, really. Due to her terrible short term memory, Flora writes notes to herself all over her hands and arms but one thing stands out; ‘FLORA be brave’ as that reminds her of her name (and therefore who she is) as well as take risks and live her life. She also carries a notebook around that is ‘her story’, written by her mother and it is a way for Flora to remember who she is. However, when she realises that she is a seventeen year old, rather than a ten year old due to a memory, she also loses some friends. Her parents go away, leaving her alone as her friend doesn’t visit so Flora does a reckless thing; she manages to travel across the world in search of finding her memory.

I loved Flora’s drive to overcome her disability; she also had some excellent relationships with family and friends, even if she didnt always remember their names or when they last met which were really nicely portrayed. Her parents didn’t seem like the best at times, although as the novel progresses it is explained more in depth which actually resulted in sympathy towards them in some way. FLORA be brave is an excellent way of describing her lust for life; her journey of self discovery and her reasons for living day to day. By reading from her perspective it really does hit home just how difficult an illness amnesia is; forgetting friends, what you did an hour ago, what you were saying earlier (as a few examples) must be the most frustrating things to experience within a loved one, as well as within yourself. On the other hand, having events, conversations and ideas constantly forgotten and repeated meant that it felt like the book was one big circle at times; which I suppose foreshadows the repetitiveness of her illness but it was also slightly confusing to read as it felt like there were many parts that I’d already read when in fact it was a different situation with the same issues surrounding it.

Overall, I did enjoy this book but unfortunately there were a lot of flaws in the telling of the story, but the plot was great. As I said previously, the writing style was a little too simplistic for me, even for YA fiction which was a shame. However the characterisation was good and using Flora’s amnesia to describe the same person from a different perspective every time she ‘met’ the person again was a lovely quirk that showed the issues with that kind of illness very well. I also liked that Flora’s strength was shown alongside her vulnerability; how she was capable of being wild and loved by many people whilst struggling to be independent; there are many coming of age themes explored in this book and as much as I found Flora infuriating at times, her character was so interesting that it was impossible to dislike her once the novel was complete. Parts of this story felt unrealistic to me, which is why it’s only a 3 star read to me, but it is worth picking up as it does make you think and the twist was pretty unexpected and that is always a good thing in a novel. I’d recommend reading this with an open mind, which is why this review is carefully not giving any of the main events of the plot away!

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