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The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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Laurie Halse Anderson’s latest YA feat chronicles seventeen year-old, Hayley’s, senior year of high school in a new school after settling down in a new town with her father, who is haunted by ever-present internal demons. A war veteran, Hayley’s father finds day-to-day life difficult to deal with and turns to alcohol and drugs in order to cope with the nightmares and extreme paranoia based from past fears and experiences in Iraq; he can’t even manage to keep a stable job. With her dad losing in his own battles, Hayley struggles to help her father in a parent-child role reversal, while simultaneously trying to make it through the tedious school year. Things only become more complicated when memories she doesn’t want resurfacing do exactly that and a witty, kind boy is thrown into the mix – one that seems determined to sweep Hayley off her feet.

Most famous for her novel, "Speak", Anderson once again writes a story filled with complex characters, traumatic experiences, and mental illness; a tale that threatens to rip your beating heart from your chest while simultaneously feeding you inches of hope in small increments.

Though this new work is not - in my opinion - her best,it does give a very insightful look into Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), an illness that plagues many men and women – and not just war veterans. The emotional turmoil that memories can wreak upon one’s brain is revealed in this new novel, following a man who cannot move on from his past and a daughter who just wants her smiling father back – not to mention one that will take care of her.

Though I felt there were aspects of the book, including some format choices, that needed to be better explained – and less awkward – and the story progressed at a slow pace, “The Invisible Knife of Memory” tugged at my heartstrings in remembrance of my own father who had been deployed to Afghanistan for eight months and, furthermore, tells a great father and daughter story. The 372-page novel doesn’t contain as much action as the latest Michael Bay film, the book does possess a great emotional depth and is pieced together stunningly by a much beloved author.

7/10 stars.

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