“You are a million times more capable than we’ve ever allowed you to be.”
Synopsis: Emily Barr is a British travel writer and novelist, author of The One Memory of Flora Banks, a novel for young adults. The One Memory of Flora Banks is about a 17-year-old Flora Banks who has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times in a day, since the age of 10 when she had a tumour removed from her brain which also took with it her ability to make new memories. Until the day she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory & making her whole again. So, when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meets him on the other side of the world, Flora knows that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life. With the words “be brave” tattooed into her skin, & written reminders of who she is & why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on a journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. Nothing is quite as it seems from the moment she steps off the plane in the arctic, Flora must “be brave” to learn the truth about herself & to make it home safely.
Review: The story line of the book was interesting but when I read the synopsis my first thoughts were “please don’t turn it into the stories of how the boy fixed her & they lived happily ever after.” I’m so glad that wasn’t the case. Throughout the story there is repetition but that is part of it because every few hours Flora loses her memory & reminds herself using the writings on her arm, a book that she writes in all that she wants to remember & any post its that she has posted.
*SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER*
The story did have a couple twists, one being when Flora goes all the way to Svalbard & goes through a lot of forgetting & reminding herself about everything, she clings onto the memory of Drake kissing her only for him to deny it all & make Flora feel like she was losing her mind & that she had imagined it all up in her head. His reason to do so was because he never expected her to remember it. Secondly, the biggest twist I guess, her parents have lied to her for 7 years about her memory loss. They always pretended that Flora had a brain tumour because they couldn’t bear her asking about it every 5 minutes. In fact, the entire family (Flora, her brother & their parents) had an accident where Flora received the most horrendous head injuries, there was no brain tumour. The sort of amnesia that Flora had where she remembered things for an hour or three & then forgot can often get better over time but for a long time, Flora’s didn’t but recently, when the memory of Drake kissing her stuck, her brother thought that it could have been improving. She also kept asking to go to Flambards, a theme park where they were on their way to when the accident happened, which caused her mother a lot of grief (she was driving). Flora tended to act dangerously & more impulsively post-accident, her personality had changed slightly. To “tame” her, Flora’s mother put her on tranquilizers or drugs, calling it her medicines, that would dull her senses, stop her moods & make you easy & controllable. There’s no real medication for amnesia, she didn’t even need to take any pills at all, they just fogged up her brain because she was easier to manage.
In more than half the book I wasn’t really into it, but those twists really had me going “ohmygod” while reading. Her brother, Jacob, & her best friend, Paige, put together a plan to break Flora out from under her parents, from under the pills that made it difficult to be her but the book doesn’t show it all going down. Like what happens? Is the plan successful? Does Paige save Flora? Does Flora go back to Dr. Epstein? One thing’s for sure though, Drake is an ass. How dare he try to manipulate Flora just to save himself? She’s mentally unwell, she’s vulnerable & he made her feel like she had lost her mind, like she imagined it all, he made her question her one memory that stuck when no other did.