Sometimes we pick up a book and love it from the first page to the last. Sometimes we begin with enjoying it, and then realise its actually a complete bore. This was a book that took a bit of time for me to appreciate, but after half-way I ended up really enjoying and connecting to it.
When I started reading I just kept comparing it to Emma Healey’s Elizabeth is Missing, a book that explores dementia which I absolutely loved it. I was intrigued into how this book would also cover the theme of memory loss.
The voice used in the book was one of the things that initially irritated me, because I felt it really difficult to identity to a main character who, despite being 17, spoke as though she was so much younger. I found the emails between her and Drake awkward to read,
and her constant repetition of “I kissed Drake on the beach” was annoying. I understood that this was part of her character, and that repetition was necessary with a subject such as amnesia, but the repetitive loops, for the first half of the book, felt to me boring. I was interested in the confusion of Flora and her inability to remember, but I felt like nothing was happening, and as a reader I needed something to keep me reading, and the first half didn’t have that.
But half-way through the story really picked up, and as Flora went on her adventure I began to be much more hooked and interested. I wanted to keep reading to find out more about Drake, about what would happen to Flora. I felt that I was becoming more like Flora by reading her voice, I was beginning to become confused with her. Her voice now no longer felt too young, but its disjointed nature made her feel more real, it highlighted how I think when I am confused myself
, but it stayed throughout. I became attached into a stream of confusion, and entered a world that was both really different, but also really true. I was rooting for Flora. This is when I really started to appreciate the book. There was a moment, it was towards the end, where I had become so connected to the character of Flora, and her way of thinking, that I had no idea what was the truth and what wasn’t, I felt confused with her.
The voice that initially annoyed me, and the child-like voice that I was first confused by, I understood by the end. I think this shows how difficult writing about memory loss must be, especially through first person voice. But it is a rare and really interesting voice to read through. When it is mixed with good plot twists (which this book definitely has) it can become gripping as the reader, through accessing the book through an unreliable narrator, finds it harder to discern what is real and not real.
Out of five stars, I think I’d give this book a solid three. It was an interesting take, and I became really connected, but the mixture of many awkward phrases alongside the time it took to get into it, makes it just miss out on four stars for me. It’s not a book that I felt ‘Wow, just wow’ at the end of, but I definitely enjoyed it and I loved the message that it covered throughout. This book was a book that was simultaneously all about finding the boy, yet also completely not about finding the boy. And that was a mixture that I loved.
Have you read The One Memory of Flora Banks? If so, what did you think? Do you have any recommendations for other books that cover memory loss/ unreliable narrators?