Review: The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

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The One Memory of Flora Banks is the fantastically engaging story of a girl with anteretrograde amnesia i.e. no short term memory. The book begins with Flora attending a party, where she kisses a boy and creates a memory so powerful that it stays with her. Her attempts to find the boy lead her on a wild voyage of discovery about her illness, her family and ultimately, herself.

I thought that this novel was extremely cleverly written. It could  very easily have wandered into the realms of being tedious, frustrating or repetitive as you know the back story of Flora (obviously, you can remember what has just happened to her whilst she can’t) but despite her constant efforts to piece the past together the whole book was so well written that it worked really well. The novel could have also been quite boring as it is written entirely from Flora’s point of view with only a few other characters mentioned (most quite briefly) but again the excellent writing made the story really engaging.

I also really liked how the book kept you guessing about what was actually going on, due to the unreliable nature of Flora’s narrative. It was very hard to work out exactly what had happened until the ending – I certainly didn’t guess correctly.

If I had one criticism of this book I would say that the possible lack of realism within the story is where it falls down a little. For example, someone with that type of amnesia must constantly be terrified that they’ve suddenly found themselves in a version of the world which is much moved on (technically they must constantly find themselves in the future) surrounded by parents/friends/family who have all aged – and that they are suddenly not a child anymore. How would Flora function in entirely new surroundings? How would she know how to work a mobile phone, laptop or website? How would she attend school when so much emphasis is based on retaining and regurgitating facts and figures? And surely her GP would have kept an eye on her progress/recovery, especially as we know that Flora had a support worker (presumably paid for by the local council) which would definitely have necessitated up to date medical reports.

However, if you can ignore the plot holes and just go with the story then I think you’ll be rewarded. I personally found this book very enjoyable – it would be great to read a sequel to find out what happens to Flora next.

Overall rating: 8/10

Please note that I read this book for free via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks, Netgalley! I also read this book as part of the Popsugar Reading Challenge 2017 #29 Read a Novel With an Unreliable Narrator.

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