The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Rating: 2.5 Stars
Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora’s brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora’s fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.
With little more than the words “be brave” inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must “be brave” if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.
I feel very conflicted on this book. I did like it, but I also had a few issues with it.
The premise of the book is very intriguing; Flora, teenage girl who essentially suffers from “short term memory loss”, is able to remember one kiss and goes on a trip by herself to find the boy.
Flora’s character really grew on me throughout the book. I think the author did a really good job of showing Flora’s amnesia in a realistic way. Flora was forced to essentially start her life over in each scene, and it was interesting to watch her have to figure things out over and over again, especially since we know exactly what has happened and why it has happened. However, because of the nature of Flora’s condition, the book does get extreeeemely repetitive. For example, I read the phrase “I am Flora, I am seventeen, I kissed Drake” approximately SIX HUNDRED TIMES. Seriously. It was at least once a page.
There were times I thought I might scream. *sobs*
Another thing that was a direct result of Flora’s condition was the style in which the book was written. It felt very juvenile; Flora didn’t feel like a seventeen year old, and the writing often felt clunky. There were almost never contractions, for example. After I got used to this writing style, I didn’t mind it, as it really helped to cement that Flora has a ten year old’s memories and is forced to reset ever couple hours. The more juvenile writing shows this as well, so I ended up not minding it, but I think that’s mostly because I was able to see why the book was written in this way.
I felt like Flora was a fairly well-developed character, and the other characters were reasonably well-developed as well, but none were particularly memorable. I did enjoy reading about the interactions between Flora and the side characters, and I thought Flora’s character arc was pretty well-done. It wasn’t anything particularly special though, mostly because since Flora is constantly resetting and doesn’t really have a way to develop. I feel like her voice changed depending on her circumstances, which worked very well in this case.
I DIDN’T like Flora’s obsession with Drake, but it was resolved satisfactorily (after pages of pain) and then I stopped being (as) angry.
I think my main issue with Flora is the repetitiveness of the plot. I do understand why it is so repetitive, and Flora’s amnesia made this element technically work, but I personally just got tired of it.
Overall, Flora is an extremely creative and compelling book with a few flaws that are just inherent to its premise, but I think it will work for the right reader. I guess my suggestion is to just try it if it interests you and see how it goes!!
Does this sound like a book you would like? What makes you decide to try a book? Also, am I the only one getting Dory vibes??
*There was a handful of minor swearing, as well as the s word 3-4 times and the f word twice.