The Memory Book by Lara Avery

Published: 7th July 2016  Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Quercus Children’s Books
Pages: 357
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

“They tell me that my memory will never be the same, that I’ll start forgetting things. At first just a little, and then a lot. So I’m writing to remember.”

Samantha McCoy has it all mapped out. First she’s going to win the national debating championship, then she’s going to move to New York and become a human rights lawyer. But when Sammie discovers that a rare disease is going to take away her memory, the future she’d planned so perfectly is derailed before it’s started. What she needs is a new plan.

So the Memory Book is born: Sammie’s notes to her future self, a document of moments great and small. Realising that her life won’t wait to be lived, she sets out on a summer of firsts: The first party; The first rebellion; The first friendship; The last love.

Through a mix of heartfelt journal entries, mementos, and guest posts from friends and family, readers will fall in love with Sammie, a brave and remarkable girl who learns to live and love life fully, even though it’s not the life she planned.

I was delightfully surprised with this book. I picked it up thinking it sounded interesting and I wasn’t disappointed. As someone who has not got the greatest memory at times, it was fascinating to read about someone who has a disease that robs someone of their memories. The irony is, as Sammie mentions, is that she relies on her memory. It is her strongest thing, her proudest part of herself. To have that taken away is nothing short of unfair.

As a debater, planned Valedictorian, and future lawyer, Sammie’s big plans are thrown into chaos when she discovers she has an incredibly rare disease that will slowly affect her memories. To preserve the ones she has and to keep a record of goals for Future Sam to attain to, she starts a journal dubbed her Memory Book where she records her life in the tiniest detail, determined to show everyone she can fight her fate and still have the life she’s spent years working towards.

I loved that this book is told entirely through Sammie’s Memory Book. There are no deviations or ‘outside’ moments not recorded in the book. This is interesting and you see how Avery works things into the book through Sammie that tells her story but also includes the lives of others.

Sammie was an interesting character and I quite liked her. She is passionate and headstrong; she knows what she wants and does everything in her power to get it. She knows she hasn’t got the best social skills, she admits she is selfish, others know she is selfish, but despite her faults in that respect, it is hard not to love her straightforwardness and her desire to go for what she wants. Her determination is adjusted to her circumstance and she is a fighter.

Avery tells the story of Sammie and her life and progression through the disease really well. Time passes and events happens which are all mentioned seamlessly in Sammie’s account. Seeing Sammie’s deterioration and her down moments through her words are all you need to understand, there’s no need for long explanations or anything. Sammie isn’t telling herself what is happening, she is writing down her memories, and that doesn’t include telling us about each new failing, it’s about recording how she’s living. From fleeting references and writing changes you can see what is happening, understand what is going on. It breaks your heart a little which is remarkable since Avery only shows a limited perspective.

I did get emotional at the end; I wasn’t quite expecting it if I’m honest. But having a few tears welling up is never a bad thing in emotional storytelling like this. From page one you hear Sammie’s voice, her determination, her fight against the unfightable and you can’t pity her, but you do mourn her lost chances. The brightside though is seeing her follow a new path, seeing her forge ahead and accept her new life, understand herself better and realise she doesn’t have to be the person she has always been and in doing so can still have a wonderful life.

You can purchase The Memory Book via the following

AmazonBook Depository

Booktopia | QBD

 

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