Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Friday, March 28, 2014

Plot Summary:
After coming home from the war, Hayley's father is constantly haunted by the memories and the visions of the war that ravaged his mind, body, and soul. What appears to be Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Hayley's father isn't coping well where he can no longer hold down a job and self-medicates with drugs and alcohol. Hayley, who is seventeen years old, wakes up every day fearing what lies behind her father's bedroom door. After years of moving around, Hayley and her father moved into her grandmother's home, which would require her to finish high school with other teens her age. For Hayley, this attempt at normalcy has not only made things worse for her father, her heart and her mind won't let anyone in because her thoughts are constantly occupied by her father. Rather than trying to fit in, Hailey sleeps through class, refuses to do her homework, and barely socializes with the people she calls friends and then she met Finn. Finn is a a tall, skinny guy with shaggy hair who refuses to take "NO!" for an answer; Finn wants Hayley to write an article for the school newspaper because he knows how smart and eloquent she is. Despite Hayley's bad attitude, she really is a bright young girl who could go places if she applied herself. Well, after making a pretty sweet deal with Finn, Hayley ends up writing that article, which was not only fun but gave her an escape from all of the worrying and stress. Moreover, the more time that she spends with Finn, the more her feelings grown for him. Hayley wants nothing more than to be happy and for her father to be healthy, but will his pain overcome his will to fight?More importantly, will Hayley be able to keep it together or will she fade away just like her father?

Critical Evaluation:
Lauire Halse Anderson has written yet another riveting story about an issue that society has yet to really understand. Unfortunately, unless you live with someone with PTSD, insight to this disease is very limited and Halse Anderson provides readers with a fairly accurate portrayal. Although most people are aware how devastating PTSD can be for person who has it, we tend to forget the people that have to help and live with their loved ones illness. Despite all of the stress and the heartache that she must endure, Hayley is given a once in a lifetime opportunity to be a normal teenager and that opportunity is named Finn.  I have to say this, granted it may not be an important observation, but the way that Finn arranged his date with Hayley was absolutely adorbs! Honestly, I squealed!What's important about this relationship is that Finn is going through his own set of family dysfunction because his sister happens to be a drug addict. When Hayley finally opens to up Finn, and vice versa, these two teens find the common ground they have been longing for. Although Hayley and Finn are the main characters, all of the teens in this story are struggling with their own amidst their parents' issues as well. I can't tell you how many times my heart broke for Hayley and her father because no one should have to suffer from the horrible disease because it destroys everything in its path. Hayley's father may have survived several tours of duty overseas, but the biggest battle he has yet to face is transitioning back into civilian life and taking control of his illness. The ending will blow your mind. A very, very compelling read and difficult to put down. Bravo, Laurie Halse Anderson!

Information about the Author:
According to her website:
Laurie Halse Anderson is the New York Times-bestselling author who writes for kids of all ages. Known for tackling tough subjects with humor and sensitivity, her work has earned numerous national and state awards, as well as international recognition. Two of her books, Speak and Chains, were National Book Award finalists. Laurie was honored with the 2009 Margaret A. Edwards Award given by YALSA division of the American Library Association for her “significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature…”. Mother of four and wife of one, Laurie lives in Northern New York, where she likes to watch the snow fall as she writes.

Teen Contemporary Fiction, Teen War Stories

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 9 & up

Books Similar to The Impossible Knife of Memory:

Awards & Recognition:
"As in Speak, Anderson provides a riveting study of a psychologically scarred teenager . . . absorbing" —Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Compelling, powerful, and timely . . . This is challenging material, but in Anderson's skilled hands, readers will find a light shining on the shadowy reality of living with someone who has lived through war" —Booklist, starred review

"The book offers an eloquent portrait of the effects of both war and family legacies, and many readers will find reflections of their own struggle to keep family connections while obtaining their independence.” —BCCB, starred review

"With powerful themes of loyalty and forgiveness, this tightly woven story is a forthright examination of the realities of war and its aftermath on soldiers and their families. One of Anderson’s strongest and most relevant works to date.” —School Library Journal, starred review

"Anderson's novels . . . speak for the still-silent among us, and force all of us to acknowledge the real and painful truths that are too dangerous to ignore." —New York Times

“The Impossible Knife of Memory isn’t always an easy read-Anderson’s gritty, authentic look at PTSD is by turns painful and heartbreaking-but it’s an important one." —Entertainment Weekly

“Andy comes home from the war in Iraq honored for his service, and haunted by it.  The war still goes on inside of him and threatens to make Hayley another causality. Laurie Halse Anderson is one of the best known writers of literature for young adults and children in the world. ” —Scott Simon, NPR Weekend Edition

“Laurie Halse Anderson has been lauded and awarded for her ability to channel the teenage mind (and heart) dealing with tough issues. In The Impossible Knife of Memory, she takes on PTSD through the story of a girl coping with her troubled veteran dad.” —Family Circle

"At turns heartbreaking, at turns funny, the narrative in this book is so spot on I wanted to give Hayley my phone number so she would have a friend in times of crisis.  Seriouslydoes ANYONE write troubled teen characters with the realism, grace, and soul of Laurie Halse Anderson?" Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of The Storyteller and Between the Lines

“Laurie Halse Anderson serves the families of veterans with the same honor, dignity, and respect that the veterans, who serve us, deserve. With her trademark hope, humor, and heart-breaking realism, Laurie Halse Anderson has given us a roadmap to heal. She is a treasure.”Stephen Chobsky, New York Times bestselling author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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