Title: The One Memory of Flora Banks
Author: Emily Barr
Published by: Penguin
Publication date: 12th January 2017
Pages: 303, paperback
Genre: young adult
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.
The One Memory of Flora Banks is a book that has been anticipated by the YA community for months. I couldn’t wait to read it, and once I’d read it I couldn’t wait to review it. As this is such a recent release and so many may not have had the chance to read it yet, I’m going to try and avoid any massive spoilers.
I read this book expecting a love story, and I think that it would have been a brilliant romance. Honestly, midway through the book I found myself wondering why the story was still focused on Flora’s journey, rather than her heartfelt reunion with Drake. However, once I understood the direction the story was going in, I was delighted. The plot was absolutely captivating, and I soon found myself completely forgetting Drake and becoming entirely absorbed in Flora’s adventures.
I loved Flora as a protagonist. I thought she was incredibly brave, and I loved how all the good qualities she possessed were clear throughout the novel, even though she had to re-remember herself each day. I imagine that it’s hard enough showing character development when a character has a whole book’s worth of experience to reflect on. When the character forgets themselves continually throughout the book, it just gets harder. She was so often treated badly by the other characters in the book (mainly other key people in her life), and she remained accepting and understanding of the world, and I just thought she was generally a great character.
That brings me on to my next point; although I thought Flora was absolutely amazing, I disliked many other characters in the book. Drake, as I’m sure anyone else who has read the book would agree, was awful. That much was clear even through Flora’s glorification of him. I also had a problem with Paige – of course, the fact that Flora kissed Drake sucks for Paige, but I thought she handled the situation appallingly, completely abandoning Paige for the majority of the novel, and all because of a boy? At the end of the story I think she just about redeemed herself in my eyes, but I feel as if she should have done more to make it up to Paige.
This book never went in the way I expected it to, and each plot twist added to my curiosity towards Flora and her identity. I thought it was an absolutely amazing concept, and I was rooting for Flora from start to finish, even as her goals changed throughout the book. I loved the message of the book, and I thought it was the perfect change from the usual memory-loss-related love stories!
There are a million more things I could comment on, but I think I’ll end this review here as it’s getting rather long. If any of you have read The One Memory of Flora Banks, I would love to hear your thoughts!