The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson | Book Review

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson | Book ReviewThe Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson
Published by Penguin on 2014-01-07
Genres: Depression & Mental Illness, Historical, Love & Romance, Military & Wars, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

For the past five years, Hayley Kincaid and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own. Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over? The Impossible Knife of Memory is Laurie Halse Anderson at her finest: compelling, surprising, and impossible to put down.

I remember reading about this on a few blogs and dying to get my hands on it. The premise sounded great and like something I would really enjoy. Unfortunately, I had been trying not to buy new books lately since I have so many unread in my apartment, and so I did not get it until Easter when my lovely boyfriend bought it for me.

The Impossible Knife of Memory is a charming story of Hayley trying to fit into a world that she has long since been a part of. Instead of going to public school like most teens, she grew up riding shotgun with her dad as he drove a truck around for work. One day her dad decides he has had enough of that lifestyle and wants to move back to his mother’s empty house and put Hayley back in school. Unfortunately, Hayley’s father suffers from intense PTSD from serving multiple tours in the war. Without a mother figure around, she has to deal with the brunt of his disease. This is a burden that really takes a toll on Hayley. It’s especially apparent as she tries to transition into a normal high school life but comes home to her father high and passed out. The only part of her life that seems to be looking up is her love interest in Finn.

I really cared for Hayley. Watching her struggle to support her dad was haeartbreaking. Whenever he would get drunk and lash out, I just wanted to reach through the pages and give Hayley a hug. No one should have to deal with that kind of behavior from their parents. As a result of what she goes through on a daily basis, she is very closed off when it comes to relationships, whether they be romantic or not. She is scared to let people in.

I loved watching Finn show his support for her and teaching her  how to trust. Their relationship really blossomed throughout the pages and it was wonderful. I enjoyed that Finn also had issues of his own. His family is extremely tight on money and his sister constantly takes advantage of the little money they do have with expensive rehab stints. Finn is told he can’t go to his dream school because they can’t afford it and they urge him to go to a state school. This was something that bothered me a little bit. I’m tired of media talking down about state schools. I was able to get a college education for half the price of an average private school and had a job lined up before I graduated. There is nothing wrong with going to a cheaper school if you put the effort into it. Anyway, it was nice to see two people struggling come together and support each other. They also didn’t have a perfect relationship and went through a very tough patch. I liked this as it seemed more genuine to me. It isn’t always roses and smiles in a serious relationship.

Overall, this was a great read. I’ve never read a book about PTSD before and it was very eyeopening for me. I don’t know how I would ever handle a situation like that and I really hope people with this disorder can get the help they need. Your heart will break when you read the last couple of chapters. I wasn’t expecting such a climatic ending and it was every bit dramatic, but in the best way possible. The pages flew by and I was sad when it was over. The Impossible Knife of Memory is a wonderful book and I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a refreshing contemporary read.

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Cassie is a 24 year old working full-time in the marketing industry. In her spare time she likes to play video games, read books, exercise, and cuddle with her cat.

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About Cassie Conant

Cassie is a 24 year old working full-time in the marketing industry. In her spare time she likes to play video games, read books, exercise, and cuddle with her cat.


  1. Yeah, you won me with the gif. Love it.

    I remember seeing lots of good things about this one. Still haven’t gotten to it. Whyyy?! I think I’ll probably still hold off reading it; doesn’t scream “summer read!” to me. It looks more like a fall book. Glad you enjoyed it and I look forward to reading it sometime soon!

    • Haha, I thought the gif fit well. If only I could’ve given Hayley a hug!

      I honestly probably wouldn’t have read it in the Spring if my boyfriend hadn’t bought it for me as a gift. It really isn’t a summer read. It is a wonderful Fall/Winter read though!

  2. If you loved it now I’ve got to get it. You haven’t stared me wrong yet. Thanks for the review.

  3. (That GIF!) I loved hearing your thoughts on The Impossible Knife of Memory! I was, admittedly, really curious about this book, but haven’t quite been in the mood to read it just yet. Still, it sounds like such a strong contemporary, and a sad one, and sometimes, those are the most eye-opening and the best to read.

    • Thank you! I had been eyeing it for a long time before I actually read it, I definitely understand that! I hope you enjoy it when you do get around to reading it!

  4. I so need to read this one. Laurie Halse Anderson can do no wrong in my eyes.

  5. I love Laurie Halse Anderson and while I was happy to see PTSD brought to the forefront of discussion it still let me down a little. Maybe I was in a crummy mood when I read it. 🙁 Definitely not a summer read!