Book Review: The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora’s brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora’s fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.

With little more than the words “be brave” inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must “be brave” if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of Perfect Ten by Penguin Teen for review, but this in no way affected my final rating.

The Good

“The inside of my head is out of control. It is on fire. It is snowing. It is a wild jungle. It is an arctic wilderness. It is everything that has ever happened and everything that ever will happen, all at once.”

Y’all, this book! I have so many feels. Part of me loved it because the writing had epic quotes like the one above, and because the author masterfully placed us inside the mind of someone with anterograde amnesia. It was definitely a wild ride, especially the last third of the story. Without giving too much away, there was a bit of a “twist” ending, and it really shook me up! I also liked the descriptions when Flora was in Norway, and her determination and bravery were quite admirable.

The Bad

Sometimes, the repetition of Flora’s thoughts or actions became tedious, and I get that’s how Flora must have felt all the time because of her amnesia, BUT DAMN. It might not have been so bad, if the one memory she kept hold of and repeating wasn’t about kissing a boy. I feel like this could have been an even more awesome story about self-discovery and disability, had it not been so heavily about a naive girl chasing a random boy.

The Verdict

All in all, I liked it well enough and, at under 300 pages, it was a quick read. I think the unique POV, as well as the setting and ending, made it worthwhile.

Rating: ★★★

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