Laurie Halse Anderson’s latest novel, The Impossible Knife of Memory, is emotional, riveting, and heartbreaking. Halse Anderson writes such raw stories that when you finish, you feel spent. Hopeful, but spent.
The Impossible Knife of Memory revolves around Hayley, a high school senior at a new school, and her father, a decorated war veteran with severe PTSD that is going untreated. For years, Hayley has taken care of her father as he fled his demons as a long-haul trucker with his young daughter by his side. But with college looming, they decide to settle back into the town he grew up in so that Hayley can finish her high school career at a traditional high school.
Hayley is hopeful when they return that her dad will be able to get healthy and return to the father she once knew, but her dad just spirals deeper into drugs and alcohol, stuck in the horrible memories of his time at war. Hayley, while likable, is in complete denial of the danger her father is in and tries to keep things together all by herself for way too long.
Of course, things finally explode and all the fears Hayley has about her dad killing himself or others has become too close to reality.
The Impossible Knife of Memory is a compelling read. The story will break you open and leave you tender. I used The Impossible Knife of Memory as a read aloud for my 8th grade students and at times they were bored with it, but by the end they were begging me to read just one more chapter every day. The ending is hard to read out loud and I totally cried in front of my first class so be prepared for some tears. But this one is powerful and will definitely make you think.
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