The One Memory of Flora Banks is another one of the books on my YALC reading list. I’ve been hearing about this book a lot on social media, and I’ve never picked up a copy myself. With Emily Barr attending YALC next month, it gave me a reason to read it!
How do you know who to trust when you can’t even trust yourself?
Flora has amnesia.
She can’t remember anything day-to-day: the joke her friend made, the instructions her parents gave her, how old she is.
Then she kisses someone she shouldn’t – and the next day she remembers it.
It’s the first time she’s remembered anything since she was ten.
But the boy is gone.
I look at my hands. One of them says ‘FLORA be brave’
The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr
The Presentation of Flora’s Amnesia
I don’t think I’ve read a book before about a character suffering from amnesia, especially as bad as Flora’s. (Actually, I tell a lie – the only one I can think of is Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson.) Flora can only remember a few hours before she begins to forget things, and when she wakes up in the morning, it’s as if the previous day didn’t happen at all.
It took me a while to get into this book; I didn’t know what to make of it at the start. I found it a bit confusing and repetitive to begin with, because Flora repeats a lot of things. She keeps a notebook with her story in it, and reads it every morning to remember who she is. As she learns about herself, she repeats things (especially the phrase “I kissed Drake”, which quickly got annoying.) I can definitely see why the author chose to do this, though – it really hit me how repetitive Flora’s life must be. It gave me an idea of how frustrating it would be to have to learn who you are and why you can’t remember anything every single morning.
Please, Not the “Love Cures All” Trope…
I reeeeeally didn’t want it to end up having the “boy cures illness” trope that I don’t think anybody likes. I was worried because it almost gave off that vibe; it was a bit annoying that the only thing she remembered was kissing a boy. (Side note – when I wrote that sentence I accidentally wrote “killed a boy” and oh my god, that would be an ENTIRELY different story.) I guess it was the thing that drove the whole story, so it didn’t bother me tooooo much. The shock twists towards the end made up for it and explained everything…
Story & Characters
The story was a little unbelievable in quite a few parts, like when Flora went off on her own to the other end of the world (I think? Geography isn’t my strong point). I also feel like the whole “parents keeping a secret and there’s actually nothing wrong or not the thing you’d expect” is becoming more and more common (e.g. Everything, Everything) and as much as I didn’t really see the plot twists coming and I liked them a lot, I hope it doesn’t become too common in YA books. I must say though, if you love a good plot twist (or several twists – like, the plot twists have plot twists. It’s just so twisty), this is the book for you!
I do wish we could have seen more of some other characters like Flora’s brother Jacob. I kind of wish we could have a whole story just of her brother! I was so interested in him and for a character who plays such an important role in the story, he’s kind of brushed under the rug for most of it. I guess this is because Flora doesn’t see him, barely remembers him, and it’s all told from her perspective. But from the tiny bits we saw of Jacob, I really liked him.
I’ve realised it sounds like I’m slating the book a lot, but I actually really, really liked it! I flew through it in less than 2 days because it’s so well-written and full of great twists. Flora is so unpredictable and it made for a fun read – I had no idea what she would do next, and it kept me on edge. The concept was pretty cool and the amnesia seemed well-researched, even if it was a little over the top in some parts (which the author admits herself in the Acknowledgements – “Dr Kevin Fong helped with the medical side of things and gave me papers to read about amnesia; all mistakes and exaggerations are mine.”
The One Memory of Flora Banks is an intriguing, imaginative book that I really enjoyed reading. I definitely want to have a look at some of Emily Barr’s other books if they’re as gripping and creative as this one!
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