We read “The Impossible Knife of Memory” by Laurie Halse Anderson for my YA Lit class this week to the mixed reactions of most of my peers. Many of them thought the main character of Hayley was too much of a “special snowflake” who spent an exorbitant amount of time being a stereotypical rebellious and angst-ridden 16 year-old. They also thought Anderson was out of touch with the way teens think and act and speak and especially with the way they text (I have to agree with them on this matter—the texting sequences in this novel are horrifying).
One aspect we all generally loved is the main storyline between Hayley and her father. She is a teenager struggling to take care of her veteran father who is grappling with undiagnosed and unmedicated PTSD. There’s a lot of stuff going on there, and Anderson’s portrayal of that relationship is almost painfully beautiful and scary. This is an infliction that so many people suffer from and it is one that, for the most part in this country, feels pushed aside. Anderson wrote a story that needed to be written, and we all agreed on her success in that endeavor.
Personally, I loved reading “The Impossible Knife of Memory.” Sure, some of the dialogue was a stretch and the texting made me wither and cringe, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The story is at times disheartening and harrowing, at others, hopeful and buoyant, and always insightful. It’s contemporary YA lit at its best. But that shouldn’t surprise anyone (LAURIE HALSE ANDERSON).