The Memory Book
Author: Lara Avery
Series: Stand-alone Novel
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 7/5/2016
Source: ARC from BookCon 2016
*I received this ARC for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.*
Read All About It:
They tell me that my memory will never be the same, that I’ll start forgetting things. At first just a little, and then a lot. So I’m writing to remember.
Sammie McCoy is a girl with a plan: graduate at the top of her class and get out of her small town as soon as possible. Nothing will stand in her way—not even the rare genetic disorder the doctors say will slowly steal her memories and then her health.
So the memory book is born: a journal written to Sammie’s future self, so she can remember everything from where she stashed her study guides to just how great it feels to have a best friend again. It’s where she’ll record every perfect detail of her first date with longtime-crush Stuart, a gifted young writer home for the summer. And where she’ll admit how much she’s missed her childhood friend Cooper, and the ridiculous lengths he will go to make her laugh. The memory book will ensure Sammie never forgets the most important parts of her life—the people who have broken her heart, those who have mended it—and most of all, that if she’s going to die, she’s going to die living.
This moving and remarkable novel introduces an inspiring character you’re sure to remember, long after the last page.
Sammie suffers from Niemann-Pick Type C, which is a mutation in her genes that causes dementia and an array of other symptoms including various mobility limitations. As a soon to be NYU student and completely determined-to-win debater, Sammie only had to worry about winning the Debate Nationals and maintaining her valedictorian spot through the end of the school year before her diagnosis. She is smart, competitive, and incredibly driven to achieve her goals. All great traits to have, unless remembering things is a problem.
The book demonstrates that although it’s sad that she may lose her ability to remember common phrases or math equations, it is even more devastating that this illness will take her memories of the people in her life. Having The Memory Book be told from Sammie’s viewpoint gives the readers a more depressing glimpse of what it would be like to have the disease. By changing the structure of her journal entries, spelling, grammar, and pattern of talking we were able to follow Sammie’s progression with her.
While she is well-developed, I felt that the voice was somewhat inconsistent throughout as some journal entries seemed more like an outside description instead of something Sammie would be writing to herself. At points my ability to like her wavered because of choices she made, but that could just lend to her being a more realistic character since people do make mistakes. I also felt like the ending occurred rapidly and left me confused for a bit if I understood what actually happened in the book. I was surprised the book was done and found myself checking to see if I had skipped pages. It was certainly a good book, but probably not one I would reread.