My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

ARC Review: The One Memory Of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

Please Note:  I received an advanced readers copy of this book from the "First In Line" program from Random House publishing.  This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.

Synopsis (From Goodreads):
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.

Many people ask me why I (a person long past her teens) read Young Adult novels.  How can a book aimed at teenagers be appealing to me?  The answer is easy.  Many books of general fiction end on a bleak note, in an attempt to be realistic.  I like YA books because, even in the grimmest of circumstances, they offer hope.  The One Memory of Flora Banks, by Emily Barr, tackles tough topics but ends on an optimistic note.  It is told with an original voice, and raises troubling questions about how we treat people with disabilities.  I finished this book a week ago, yet I am still thinking about it.

What I Liked:
Narrative Style:
The book is told completely in Flora's voice.  At times, the reader is confused, just as Flora is.  The narrative bounces from past to present.  Flora sometimes questions what her age is.  Is she a ten year-old, or a teenager?  Flora has a life-altering event happen when she is ten years old.  Did this leave her with the mind of a ten year-old forever?

At times, reading this book was a challenge, due to the relentless repetition of facts that Flora must recite every time her mind resets.  But this also gave me great empathy towards Flora.  Flora has words written on her arm that say, "Flora, Be Brave", and she is, facing uncertainty and confusion every few hours. 

Never the less, she persisted...


Flora goes from confused to bold then back to confused every few hours.  This gets seriously worse as she stops taking her medications.  I loved how, despite her own immediate problems, Flora is concerned for other people.  She loves and worries about her brother in Paris, and is heartbroken that she may have betrayed her best friend, Paige.  This shows Flora is an amazing person who will only become more astonishing if she can get better.

I also loved Paige, and Flora's brother, Jacob. They both love Flora and want her to make a fuller recovery.

Flora's parents were well written.  Even though I understood why they did certain things, I hated how they treated Flora.  Without giving too much away, I think the mother should be prosecuted for abuse!  The mistreatment isn't obvious, but it is devastating to Flora.

Minor Characters:
I love books where there are many smaller characters that are fully realized.  This attention to detail fleshes out a scene to reveal that there are interesting people everywhere, if you just take the time to see them.  As Flora is constantly relearning her environment, she is the perfect person to encounter.  She is completely in the moment, and people respond to that.  I loved it!

Individual dignity:
As a person who works with students with disabilities, I am keenly aware of how I must work to maintain each student's personal dignity.  This can happen in small ways (not speaking about the student as though they aren't there), to significant ways (appreciating how the student is on any particular day).  I am there to help him or her access her education.  I am not out to change a student to fit my needs.  Someone needs to clue Flora's parents into these things!  I was livid with how she was being treated by them!!!  I hope that anyone reading this book will come away with this messege:  Everyone should be treated with respect.  Everyone's voice should be listened to.  We cannot restrict someone's choices to make our lives more convenient (sorry not sorry for the rant).

While it is not my policy to do spoilers, I was very impressed by the ending.  Just when I thought this book was going to be depressing, it ended on a bittersweet, hopeful note.  I adore that the people who truly love Flora do not give up on her!

This is a challenging book that will be hard to read, at times.  But the payoff is a world filled with fantastic people, epic adventures, and an unbroken spirit.  Run to get this book.






Release Date:  May 2nd, 2017

Genre:  Contemporary YA Fiction

Source:  Random House "First In Line" program

Format:  ARC Paperback book

Recommendation:  A book that will have your rooting for the main character.  Bittersweet, but satisfying.

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2019 Reading Challenge
MsArdychan has read 10 books toward her goal of 120 books.


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