The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr – Review

Flora Banks has amnesia. She is 17 years old, yet on the inside she is only 10, having no memories from before then. But one day she kisses a boy and remembers it. Hanging onto this one memory, she ventures to the Arctic to find him. But how can she know who to trust?

One very good point about this book is the emotional impact it has. Whatever you think of the book, it is hard to leave it without being emotionally impacted! This is brought by the powerful use of first person, which I think really helps us to see everything from Flora’s perspective, and this is also helped by the way in which it is written. As the novel is written at times with a sense of almost childlike wonder, we can understand what the world is like to Flora, and why she chose to become fixated on this one memory. Without us understanding what the world is like to her, it would have been hard to believe and maybe almost insensitive. But this was not the case, and I felt I was really able to understand her and connect with her.

There were also a few plot twists, which I won’t go into detail about. But I feel that without these moments the book could have been quite dull to read, but as it was it was captivating and unputdownable. Flora’s awe at the world around her made me feel more interested in what was going on, as well as the strong characterisation of Flora, however I do think the twists were needed to keep it moving a little more. All in all, it was definitely gripping and entertaining to read, as well as a very quick read. I usually take about a week to read a book, but this took me less than 3 days. I really raced through it, and once I picked it up, it was hard to put down and I’d end up reading huge chunks of the book at once, when I probably should have been doing homework. Oops.

Flora wasn’t the only interesting character. Actually, I think the relationships between the characters was definitely one of the strongest aspects of the novel. There were such powerful friendships, such as Flora and Paige, Flora and Agi, but there were also subtle friendships between secondary characters that aren’t shoved to the front of the story, yet are still there to pick up on. As well as friendships, there were also family relationships that were less straightforward than I expected. That is one of the most powerful things a book can do- present a relationship or character where there is more below the surface, as it makes the characters a million times more realistic. In real life, there is no one who has a personality that you can entirely judge from meeting them, or who doesn’t have anything to hide. And in this book, the characters were like this.

There were a few negatives which made me deduct a heart from the rating. Firstly, there were some areas of the novel that were entirely unrealistic. I’m sorry, but not every human being you meet will immediately stop to help you and ask if you are alright if you look just a little sad, or a bit lost. Sadly, this is the truth, yet you wouldn’t get that idea from this book. Also, the pacing was a bit off in my opinion. I felt like the majority of the book was really stretched out, very slowly paced, and then all the reveals and action and everything happened in the last couple of chapters? And the amount of times Flora tells us she kissed Drake! I understand that this is realistic, she has amnesia, she will need to keep reminding herself things or discovering things over and over, but for the sake of the book, I think this aspect could be better managed. Lastly, I have read some other reviews that criticise the portrayal of amnesia. I personally can’t really comment on this as I have no experiences of this in any way, but from what other people have been saying I understand that the way she was always trying to be ‘normal’ and find a boy to ‘fix it’ was problematic for some. Like I say, I don’t know anything about amnesia but I can understand how this could be insensitive or unrealistic.

This novel was very enjoyable, captivating and absorbing. The characters and friendships were very strong, and I liked how Flora’s voice was used to give an emotional impact and make us feel involved in the story. There were twists and turns that kept it moving, and I definitely couldn’t put it down! However I do feel that the pacing was a bit off, and also the repetition of events in Flora’s mind could be better managed to make it less tedious to read about. Overall, I enjoyed it and would recommend it.

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3 thoughts on “The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr – Review

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