The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

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The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

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Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Spectacular exploration of memory, first love and family secrets. How can you find the boy you love if the only thing you can remember is kissing him?
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: January 2017
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 0141368519

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Flora Banks has anterograde amnesia. This means that she hasn't laid down any new memories since she was ten years old and had a brain tumour removed. She's now seventeen and can remember life before the tumour but can't hold on to anything that happened after that for more than an hour or two. She gets by with the help of her very protective parents and her best friend Paige, and from the endless notes she writes to herself that tell her who she is, what's wrong with her, and what's been happening in her life. Flora has a tattoo on her arm. It simply says be brave.

But then, one night, Flora kisses Paige's boyfriend Drake, before he leaves for a research study position in the Arctic. Paige finds out about it and is furious. She doesn't want to be Flora's friend any more. And then Flora's brother, who she doesn't remember well but who apparently lives in Paris, has a health emergency and Flora's parents rush to his side. They think that Paige is looking after Flora but she isn't. So Flora, for the first time, is left to deal with her amnesia by herself.

And here's the thing. Flora can remember kissing Drake. She can remember every single thing about it. And she is convinced that finding him again is the most important thing in the world. So that's what she sets out to do...

Oh, goodness me. I loved, loved, loved this story. First up, though: if you are looking for a joyful but straightforward story of a plucky heroine beating adversity then Flora Banks probably isn't for you. Likewise, if you want a straight-up romantic story or a straight-up thriller, it isn't for you either. Flora Banks is a little bit of all three of these things but it isn't any one of them. It's an exploration of memory told in the first person, so you, as the reader, are challenged to piece out the story with only an unreliable narrator to guide you. Flora repeats things and repeats things a lot, because she finds them out anew almost every day. And the narrative often stops suddenly and starts again from a new place without any warning. There are little clues about what is really going on scattered through the pages - but you'll find it as difficult as Flora does to work out which are the significant ones. I loved these ambiguities as I worked my way through the book but I can see that they wouldn't appeal to everyone.

My soppy heart bled and soared for Flora as she tried and tried to make sense of what had happened to her, what was happening to her as the book went on, and I was rooting for her all the way in her mission to connect with the boy she'd kissed because it was the one memory she was sure she could rely upon. And I struggled along with her to get a solid handle on what was going on. I felt like I'd been given a real insight into the world of memory loss.

The One Memory of Flora Banks is a fresh and interesting take on memory and how we all rely on our ability to recall events in our lives. It's sweet and beautifully-written with a central character you could fall in love with. And it also carries a strong message that neurotypical isn't the only "acceptable" way to be.

I loved it.

Slated by Teri Terry also looks at memory. Central character Kyla has been slated - her memories deleted as a punishment for criminal behaviour rather than a consequence of trauma. It will also make you think.

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Buy The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr at


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