**Disclaimer// I would like to thank NetGalley, Quercus Children’s Books and the author, Lara Avery for providing me an electronic review copy of the novel The Memory Book for review purposes.
Genre | YA, Contemporary
Publisher | Quercus
Publication Date | Jan, 2017
Format | eBook
The Memory Book is written in a journal format, where entries are initially written by our protagonist Samantha McCoy. Sammie is a straight A overachiever who has a strict schedule for how her life is going to turn out; she has everything all figured out. That is until she is diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder that sees to destroy her most prized possession, her memory, and this death is certain with this degenerative/progressive disease.
With her future at stake, Sammie is determined to prove that she can live with this disease and still be able to do all of the things she has planned. However, Sammie must learn to accept her new fate and learn to understand that life is more than what statistics tell you and how well you do in your exams. Yet, she is determined to prove statistics wrong by empowering herself in believing that she can survive Type C Niemann-Pick’s disease.
What I enjoyed the most about this novel is the way it was written, our protagonist gives a no nonsense statement about her life and the prognosis of her disease and how it is affecting her and those around her. The diary entry style allows the reader to become acquainted with who Sammie really is – you see the main character not through other people’s perspective, but through her own mind’s eye and it gives you that sense of knowing someone you don’t really know.
I loved Sammie’s determination and optimism that she can beat her disease and that she can be the anomaly to what is an upward statistics of fatality. It’s empowering.
I didn’t feel sad or any low emotions when I was reading this book, but I can see how reading it may overcome the reader with emotions. But, this book for me was all about hope and living life the way you want to live it, and to understand that there is more to life than being focused on the future – it’s teaching you to learn to live in the now. Otherwise, when will you ever slow down to enjoy the most important moments of your life when you’re always looking into the future, and miss out on what’s happening now. It’s showing us that you have to enjoy every day because not everyone gets the chance to do so.
This book can be read in two sections: the first being about Sammie’s school life and the denial she feels towards her condition, and the second where we see Sammie become the young woman she is – the one that did not define her by her disease. The second part of the novel is about Sammie coming out of her comfort zone and becoming more aware of her surroundings and the people around her, this also comes with a trope that I wish hadn’t been included at all in the novel – romance (with a side of love triangle).
This is my only gripe about this novel, I don’t mind romance – and in most cases, I love a little bit of romance in novels. But when it’s become the centre point of the plot of the story, I’m going to have to say no. Of course, I am happy that Sammie got to experience falling in-love and out of love in, but the development of the romance was all rushed, and the addition of a love triangle didn’t help the case. But that’s just me.
The ending did leave me feeling fairly emotional. That’s the only moment my heart felt like it was being ripped into shreds, reading the messages left for Sammie.
The Memory Book very much reminded me of The One Memory of Flora Banks, in that our protagonists write down the events of their lives in order to remind themselves that they have lived those moments. The only difference is Flora has anterograde amnesia, whilst our main protagonist in The Memory Book is developing dementia which is caused by a rare genetic disease.
Overall, I did enjoy reading this book – many have said that it was a heartbreaking novel and that the story moved them to tears, but this is not the case for me. I think it was very well written, and although there were some aspects of the storyline which I did not agree with, I won’t argue that the author did a wonderful job in writing about marginalized characters and the prejudices we hold on people. Avery was also able to evoke pure unadulterated and raw emotion in her writing, which is what you want in a book – she was able to make you feel the emotions of the characters and that in itself is a feat many authors seem unable to do.