Review: The One Memory of Flora Banks

Posted January 11, 2017

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The One Memory of Flora Banks The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr
Published by Penguin on 12th January 2017
Genres: YA
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

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.

Flora Banks is 17, but in her head she thinks she’s 10. That’s because she has no short term memory. She had a tumour removed from her brain when she was 11 and it took her ability to form new memories with it.

Flora lives by the notes she has written on her arms, post-its and notebooks. They are her lifelines, as are her parents and her long-term best friend Paige.

But when Flora kisses Drake one night on the beach, she finds that she actually remembers! It’s her one new memory and she believes that Drake may actually be able to help her recover. The thing is, he has moved to Norway. After exchanging emails, Flora decides to take the trip to Svalbard alone to surprise Drake. Armed with just her notes to keep her on track, she sets off to find Drake, and perhaps create some new memories.

This was really quite an interesting book. I’ve read novels centered around memory loss in older people, but never teenagers.

On the whole, I enjoyed it and was really rooting for Flora and her Arctic expedition. The storytelling style worked well, in that we were uncovering the details of Flora’s life along with her. Obviously, there were times when everything was a bit repetitive, as Flora had to keep reminding herself who she was. Yes, it could be a little dull, but there’s a strong message there. This repetition made me think of those who surround those with memory loss. How many times a day must they answer the same questions? They must have so much patience! I think, in some small way, this repetitive aspect allows us to thinks about the support network around sufferers, their families and friends and I liked that.

I also really liked Flora herself. Her bravery and determination in the face of constant uncertainty made me, once again, consider the real-life implications for sufferers. They must spend so much time being scared, and yet this story doesn’t dwell on that. It shows what can be achieved regardless of memory status. It show us how some people face adversity straight on, they keep on fighting to live their lives – even if those around them would prefer to wrap them in cotton wool!

All in all, I enjoyed this book and the messages within. I also now totally want to visit Svalbard!