Greetings Readers! Meg here!
I recently finished reading The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson and let me tell you, it is an amazing, moving read!
Hayley has just settled down with her father, Andy, in a town she barely remembers from her childhood. After years of living on the road, she struggles to adjust to town life; but her father struggles even more so. Having served four tours abroad and returning home after a major injury, he grapples with PTSD and often turns to drink and drugs to forget his time overseas. This means Hayley, while still acclimating to the foreign territory of high school, has to care for her father while still tiptoeing around his moods. She must figure out how to keep her life with her father as close to normal as possible, but new variables keep getting thrown into the picture, and Hayley is not so good at math.
This book contains very heavy themes concerning drugs, alcohol and violence, so younger readers be aware, but these subjects are entirely relevant to the story. When soldiers come home after traumatic experiences, it's difficult to pick up the pieces and rebuild a semblance of a normal life. And Hayley, in the middle of all this, has to work hard with Andy, whether he's willing or not, to try and rebuild what they lacked as a family while they lived on the road. Hayley works to rekindle a friendship with a girl she barely remembers and start new relationships with whom she can relate. (Yes there's a boy. And while I'm normally not a fan of the romance, their relationship is meaningful and rather charming).
And so Hayley maneuvers through the difficulties of high school with the additional weight of her father's well-being. She lives through his hard times, his good times, and everything in between because of her love for him. But there's only so much she can do.
This book has an excellent blend of wit, tension, and love (romantic and familial) but be aware, it's a heavy one. It depicts in vivid detail the effects of PTSD and how it can wreak havoc on not just the victim but also those around them. It's riveting, heartbreaking, and definitely worth a read. I highly recommend this book, particularly to those who have read and enjoyed Laurie Halse Anderson's other works. It's simply phenomenal.