Eloquent and intense, The Impossible Knife of Memory is Laurie Halse Anderson at her best. I was immediately drawn into the story of Hayley, a teenager clearly scarred by her troubling life. She has been on the road with her war veteran trucker Dad for many years, “home-schooled” by this brilliant but damaged alcoholic suffering from PTSD (post traumatic stress syndrome). She is trapped by her loyalty to him, her need to take responsibility, her anger. . .This is a riveting psychological read about children who must take on the role of parents. There are clear moments of humor and pathos with Hayley’s growing affection for her friends and especially a young man, Finn, she is drawn to (after all, it is a YA novel!)
The knife of memory from the title refers to her returning memories of her childhood as they begin to resurface and her life spins out of control. These memories are interspersed with her incisive, crisp–and often hilarious–descriptions of school life and being in the throes of adolescence and young adulthood.
An absolutely fabulous read, with enough compelling themes to read and discuss as kids–and as adults.