The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

After living on the road with her truck driver father, Hayley is hoping to graduate from high school, but her father’s bouts with post-traumatic stress disorder after his time in Afghanistan are getting worse and threatening both of their lives.

I knew The Impossible Knife of Memory would be brilliant, thought-provoking, and poignant, like every other wonderful book by Laurie Halse Anderson, but I wasn’t prepared for how hopeful and romantic it would be. The love story between Hayley and Finn is one of the best I’ve seen in any YA book (including The Fault in Our Stars). The little details were so inventive that Anderson made first love fee fresh and true and real.

The core of the book focuses on Hayley’s dysfunctional and codependent relationship with her father, a veteran who is plagued by nightmares, daymares, alcoholism, and the fallout from a traumatic brain injury. She has to take care of him because he won’t take care of himself, but his behavior is growing dangerous for her, too. It’s clear that he loves her and it’s even more clear that he’s completely out of control. The risk that Hayley faces every single day is palpable, yet she is such a fighter that you’re almost rooting for her to be able to keep the secret because she keeps it so well.

Anderson gets better with every book and she knows teens like nobody else. She doesn’t interpret their lives like a sociologist, she speaks their language like a native. Her books deserve every ounce of praise they receive.

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