The Impossible Knife of Memory
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Published: January 7th, 2014 by Viking Juvenile
GoodReads Summary: For the past five years, Hayley Kincaid and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own.
Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over? The Impossible Knife of Memory is Laurie Halse Anderson at her finest: compelling, surprising, and impossible to put down.
Review: This book reminded me of something incredibly important to remember as a reader—even when I read a book’s summary and feel as if I have read dozens of books with a similar plot, an amazing author like Laurie Halse Anderson will make me feel as if I have never read a book quite like it before. Hayley’s father’s pain ripped right through me. I felt his anguish and wanted to sit beside him to try to comfort him. This book sheds light on an issue that is often kept in the dark. With the war veterans coming home, it is all the more important that we talk about PTSD and try to come together as a country to help these soldiers find peace. This book made me want to stand up and help our veterans, and I think teenagers will feel a similar sense of need for social justice.
Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: Teachers would be wise to have students research further about PTSD and learn more about other soldiers who struggle with this issue. It is also important for students to learn about what our country is doing for these men and women who served our nation.
Discussion Questions: Can Andy be helped? Does Hayley deal with her father’s condition in a beneficial way?; Why does Hayley hate Trish? Is she justified in her feelings?; How does Finn’s family situation add to the story?
We Flagged: “I needed to hear the world but didn’t want the world to know I was listening.”
“Leaning against my father, the sadness finally broke open inside me, hollowing out my heart and leaving me bleeding. My feet felt rooted in the dirt. There were more than two bodies buried here. Pieces of me that I didn’t even know were under the ground. Pieces of dad, too.”
Read This If You Loved: Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie, The Things a Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt, If I Lie by Corrine Jackson, Purple Heart by Patricia McCormick, Sunrise over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers