Thursday, July 7, 2016

Book Review: The Memory Book

Title: The Memory Book
Author: Lara Avery
Publisher: Poppy (Little Brown Books for Young Readers)
Publication Date: July 5, 2016
Source: Finished Copy from Poppy for Review Purposes
Buy the Book:

They tell me that my memory will never be the same, that I'll start forgetting things. At first just a little, and then a lot. So I'm writing to remember.

Sammie was always a girl with a plan: graduate at the top of her class and get out of her small town as soon as humanly possible. Nothing will stand in her way--not even a rare genetic disorder the doctors say will slowly start to steal her memories and then her health. What she needs is a new plan.

So the Memory Book is born: Sammie's notes to her future self, a document of moments great and small. It's where she'll record every perfect detail of her first date with longtime crush, Stuart--a brilliant young writer who is home for the summer. And where she'll admit how much she's missed her childhood best friend, Cooper, and even take some of the blame for the fight that ended their friendship.

Through a mix of heartfelt journal entries, mementos, and guest posts from friends and family, readers will fall in love with Sammie, a brave and remarkable girl who learns to live and love life fully, even though it's not the life she planned.

My Review

If you're looking for a book that reminds you why you just love reading, look no further than Lara Avery's sophomore novel, The Memory Book. Let me tell you something about this book... I was on the fence about it because I tried to read Lara's debut novel last summer but couldn't get into it. I didn't want that to deter me from reading this book, so I decided to give it a chance. Honestly, I'm so glad that I did because this book is just beautiful. The Memory Book is full of life, emotion, and will remind readers that all the small things in life are important.

The Memory Book takes readers into the world of Sammie McCoy and her battle against time. Sammie isn't your average teenager. She's determined to do anything she can to succeed in life and end up at NYU. She's on the debate team, she's an excellent student, and she's in the running for valedictorian. Her whole world crashes when she finds out that she has Niemann-Pick Type C, a rare genetic disorder that will cause her to forget everything. But being Sammie McCoy, she doesn't want to accept her fate as being terminal. She believes that she will find a way to beat the odds and live, so she starts writing a journal to help her remember everything.

I've honestly never come across a book like this in YA. Yes, there are a lot of "sick lit" books in the Young Adult sections of libraries and bookstores, but The Memory Book will stand out among them for being so different. The book follows an ambitious high school senior who finds out that she has a rare form of dementia. Despite her wishing and hoping, doctors keep telling her that there is nothing that she can really do about the disease, that she is terminal. Now I'm not at all familiar with NPC, but I really enjoyed this book because it felt very upfront and honest. Readers are there with Sammie through her ups and downs, and they really get to see exactly what she's going through, and they get to see it through her eyes, which I think is the most important part of the book.

I also really enjoyed the writing style that Lara Avery brings to the table in The Memory Book. It reads like any other YA book that's told in first person, but it's really an epistolary novel, meaning that it's written in the form of diary entries. Our narrator, Sammie McCoy, lets readers know that she is writing the whole book on her laptop that she carries everywhere with her. Readers will get to see everything that she writes about in her day-to-day life. I was able to see what days were good for Sammie and what days were bad for Sammie just by seeing how she wrote and punctuated her entries. She even tries to remind herself that she's omitted some of the details of her life because she think they will be too hard for her future self to read about. 

I also really liked how Ms. Avery brings other people into the book. This happens more towards the end, but the important people in Sammie's life come in to write to her. Sometimes, the entries are just conversations that Sammie didn't want to have out loud, but other times, they are more serious thoughts for Sammie to read later in life. I thought it was a very sweet and realistic detail, and it made the book ten times more emotional. 

The characters in The Memory Book are all very different, but together, they make up the perfect cast of people that Sammie needs in her life. Obviously there's strong-willed Sammie who is determined not to give up hope that she will be okay. There are definitley two sides to Sammie, and it's nice to see her come out of her shell throughout the book. Because Sammie is so smart and goal-oriented, she hasn't had a lot of time for friends or relationships in her short life. She quickly learns how to bond with her peers and ends up forming friendships and relationships that any teenager would want in high school.

Overall, The Memory Book by Lara Avery is a phenomenal YA book hitting shelves this summer. It will make readers laugh and it will make them cry. This book is one that readers will remember for years to come for its touching characters and emotional story. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a story about trying to overcome obstacles or anyone who loves reading about families. 

Lara Avery takes her role as a young writer very seriously; she enjoys wandering the world notebook in hand, making her living off of odd jobs. One of those jobs happens to be publishing the novel Anything But Ordinary just two years after getting a degree in Film Studies from Macalester College.

When Lara left home armed with nothing but a basketball scholarship, she told everyone she was going to law school. Then, when she started interning at The Onion and publishing pieces of fiction in national anthologies, she realized her secret plans to be a writer all along.

Though Lara sat down to write Anything But Ordinary everywhere from a 110 degree apartment in Kolkata to a hostel in Berlin, she always felt at home in Bryce’s story. Writing currently from St. Paul, MN, she hopes her debut novel will be the first of many.

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