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The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr - Review

Friday, January 13, 2017

Where did I get it? Netgalley, thank you so much to Penguin Random House UK Children's publishers.

What's it about? Flora Banks is seventeen and lives in Penzance in Cornwall with her parents. Her best friend is Paige. Flora has amnesia and every day, she forgets who she is. She can remember things from before she turned ten, but can't make new memories. 

Right at the beginning of the novel, Paige's boyfriend Drake is leaving to go to study in Svalbard. He and Flora kiss on the beach and Flora remembers it, the first new memory she has made in years. Soon after, Flora's parents have to leave Penzance to go and see her ill brother in Paris, leaving her with Paige. But Paige isn't talking to her because she found out about the kiss with Drake, so Flora is left by herself. She starts an email correspondence with Drake, and eventually decides to go to Svalbard to see him. 

Because Flora doesn't remember things, she writes things on her arms a lot. She also has a notebook that her Mum has written in. Because of this, the novel is somewhat repetitive which can be annoying but also puts the reader in Flora's head, which must be a frustrating place to live. 

I loved the descriptions of Svalbard, it's somewhere I've always wanted to go and the idea of the midnight sun is really appealing! I've read several of Emily Barr's adult novels - Backpack, Baggage, and Cuban Heels over ten years ago, and Stranded more recently in 2012 - and I've always found them entertaining enough. This novel is certainly in a similar style to those, so if you enjoy that I'd recommend those too. Even though they're for adults, their subject matters are no harder than this one, so you may like them. Even though these novels seem really frothy and dismissable, Emily's style belies deep novels and this is definitely one of them. She's made her first foray into YA literature really well, I think. I was expecting twists and turns because I know that's what Emily does, but I didn't see the exact ones coming which was great!

What age range is it for? 15+

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? No

Are any main characters people of colour? No

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? Yep, obviously. It's hard to read but worth it and you really sympathise with the character. 

Is there any sex stuff? No, and for which I'm glad. I find it hard to believe that someone like Flora could consent to sex in an informed way.

Are drugs mentioned or used? Yes, prescription medication

Is there any talk of death? Yes

Are there swear words? No, very few 

Would I recommend the book? Yes, absolutely. A great start to my new year!

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? I've heard so much stuff about it on other book blogs and Twitter, and I don't regret choosing it now!

How many stars? Nine out of ten. A very convincing book. 

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