*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: The Memory Book
Author: Lara Avery
Publication Date: July 2016
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Sammie was always a girl with a plan: graduate at the top of her class and get out of her small town as soon as humanly possible. Nothing will stand in her way–not even a rare genetic disorder the doctors say will slowly start to steal her memories and then her health. What she needs is a new plan. So the Memory Book is born: Sammie’s notes to her future self, a document of moments great and small. It’s where she’ll record every perfect detail of her first date with longtime crush, Stuart–a brilliant young writer who is home for the summer. And where she’ll admit how much she’s missed her childhood best friend, Cooper, and even take some of the blame for the fight that ended their friendship. Through a mix of heartfelt journal entries, mementos, and guest posts from friends and family, readers will fall in love with Sammie, a brave and remarkable girl who learns to live and love life fully, even though it’s not the life she planned.
I love books that create an intense connection between the reader and the protagonist. You can’t help but connect with Sammie as she goes through one of the most devastating illnesses that a young adult could imagine. Sammie is sweet, full of life, and determined to reach her goals. She set on chronicling her journey, every good experience and even every bad one. She doesn’t want to forget. These traits are perhaps what makes her fate even more tragic. We read her story through her own words, right up until the very end, and even when her words no longer make any sense. Trust me, this one’s a tearjerker. I loved Sammie as a character. I identified so much with her pre-diagnosis self, so it was easy to put myself right in her shoes.
I took issue with a few things in this book. Firstly, if my life was ending, I think that I’d be more interested in those more longterm and pure friendships, rather than actively pursuing a new romance. Sammie indulges in her long time crush, Stuart, and he becomes ingrained in her daily life so quickly in a way that made me quite uncomfortable. He partakes in her healthcare and is trusted by her family in a way that someone new to the picture really shouldn’t. I’m a Cooper girl all the way. Cooper and Sammie have a history and he see’s her for who she is. He knows her history and loves her for it. His motives are genuine for the most part.
The second things that I struggled with was Sammie’s dad. He doesn’t have a prominent role in this story, but it seems like his main function is to fight, argue, and bring anger into his family’s life at one of the most difficult points. I suppose this was meant to add strain to the familial relationship, and to create even more turmoil in an already tumultuous time. But I found it so selfish on his part to pick fights with his suffering daughter, and it was a bit aggravating.
I did enjoy this story overall. Sammie is a strong enough character to carry this story and to spark joy and life into these pages. By letting secondary characters fall to the wayside, the ready can really enjoy the story’s protagonist. It’s an emotional book that’ll no doubt, have you in tears by the end.