Can’t escape pain, kiddo. Battle through it and you get stronger.
Laurie Halse Anderson was one of my favorite writes when I was a teen. I was absolutely floored by Speak, and The Winter Girls, so I was very excited to read her latest The Impossible Knife of Memory which tackles PTSD. Unfortunately, my excitement for it did not match my enjoyment of it.
Haley Kincain is the protagonist of the The Impossible Knife of Memory. A senior in high school Hayley has come back to her home town after years on the road with her Military vet dad. Hayley lives in fear for her who father drinks severely to deal with his PTSD. He is tortured by his memories which impair his ability to function in society, and be a decent parent to Haley.
While I cannot say to know too much about PTSD I do know it is no walk in the park. I sympathize with Hayley and her situation she shouldn’t have to deal with this issue at her age, at any age for that matter. However, her attitude does not improve her situation one bit in fact, it adds to it. Her negativity and her angst made the book difficult to read at times. She picks fights with her boyfriend for childish reason, she refuses help from people who genuinely care, and she sees everyone around her as an enemy.
I needed to hear the world but didn’t want the world to know I was listening.
She tries too hard to be tough and self-reliant, which is great in a female character, but sometimes it’s just pride. I was so frustrated with her for most of the book. The only thing that redeemed her for me was when she stood up for a kid who was being bullied, her occasional dry humor, and that she likes to read.
I’d treat myself to a reading marathon all weekend. All the ice cream I could eat, all the pages I could read. Heaven.
Haley is very negative and being in her head is not easy. Haley would love to believe that the world is one giant conspiracy against her. A part of me gets her, not to long ago I also was an angsty teen, and high school was not my cup of tea. Haley refers to her classmates as zombies which at first I found funny. Some times when you don’t fit in you pretend like you don’t want to in the first place. It’s a defense mechanism and it’s easier to lash out then you actually taking the time to try at something. However, I quickly realized that this wasn’t the case with Hayley. It was not a defense mechanism, it was judgment pure and simple. In her eyes her classmates were nothing but “zombies” who weren’t on her level, and didn’t go home to their own issues.
Lastly, the romance didn’t work for me and the reason being that neither of these characters were ready to be in a relationship. They had so many internal issues that surfaced at the wrong times.This caused them to lash out at each other constantly. If there had been any responsible adults in this book, (which there is none) that were close to either of these kids, they would have brought that to their attention. Sadly, this book falls under the irresponsible adult category often found in YA.
Overall, not a bad book, I just found the characters to be very unlikable. However, Laurie Halse Anderson is a great writer, and I would recommend Speak or Winter Girls by her.