Many young adult novels create worlds in which young people are forced to grow up too quickly or often have more sense than the adults in their lives.
Laurie Halse Anderson’s “The Impossible Knife of Memory” could easily be placed in that category, except for one thing. Her utterly relatable and authentic characters who inhabit the pages of her novel.
Hayley Kincaid and her father have spent the last several years on the road — he working as a truck driver and she accompanying him. Her father is haunted by his time spent in the service and the road helps him keep one step ahead on the demons — or at least the consequences from his being haunted. When her father decides it’s time to settle back down in the town he grew up, things quickly began to unravel for Haley. Haley blames her father’s ex-girlfriend for certain things that have happened and has a difficult time fitting it at school because she’s forced to not only care for herself but also to care for her father.
That doesn’t stop her from attracting the attention of a quirky boy in her classes and the two starting a reluctant friendship that deepens into something more.
Anderson infuses Haley and the characters in her world with a sense of utter authenticity. Anderson also doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the up-hill battle Haley faces and the consequences of it. The novel is utterly compelling, readable and, at times, moving. You won’t always love or hate any of these characters but Anderson does a nice job of helping us understand what drives and haunts them.
Anderson wisely doesn’t wrap up everything with a tidy bow at the end. She does give us some closure in the novel and hope for the future, but she still leaves some things up to the reader to fill in the blanks,
Anderson’s young adult novels are among the cream of the crop — and this one is another example of why.
I received an ARC of this novel from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review.