If you follow me on Goodreads, you’ll know that I’ve been reading The One Memory of Flora Banks for over a month! I am, finally, happy to report that I am FINISHED! I picked this up after I saw it featured on iTunes – the description looked interesting (it reminded me of Everything Everything) and the reviews were pretty steady. However, spoiler alert, I really didn’t like it. Let the ranting begin…
It’s rare for a book to take me more than a week to read. Sometimes if I’m having a really crappy week and have loads to do for uni, I’ll take 2, but like I said, it’s rare. The fact that it took me a month to get through this book says a lot. I really struggled to find the motivation to read it. I kept taking huge breaks between sessions and would actively avoid reading it if I could.
With that in mind, if you’re a slightly slower reader and you often forget what’s happening in a narrative, this might be something for you to consider. Due to Flora’s amnesia, the reader gets constant refreshers and so should be relatively easy to follow, even if you haven’t touched it in a few days.
However, for me, the repetition just became annoying. I understand that, to an extent, it had to be done. But there comes a point when the simple sentence ‘I read my notebook’ would have been sufficient. It would have saved a lot of heartache.
Moving on, from what I’ve seen on Goodreads, I’m not the only reader who has a problem with this book’s romanticising of mental illness. Flora’s amnesia is wildly romanticised – she kisses a boy and suddenly can remember (really?). I just didn’t agree with this presentation. It didn’t make me feel sorry for her, or empathise, and I don’t feel that I have a greater understanding of how her mental illness affects her life (for a really good example of this, see Under Rose Tainted Skies – it does it beautifully).
It’s important to note that although Flora is 17, this is very much a middle-grade story. Flora still has the mind and the inner dialogue of a 10 year old. Therefore, if you’re going into this expecting a Young Adult story you may be unpleasantly surprised.
Attention! Spoilers ahead!
Let’s talk about Drake. I hate Drake. I understand that this story was not supposed to be a romance. However, the storyline generally just felt a little far-fetched. It seemed to me that Barr was trying to recreate the emotional plot twists of Nicola Yoon’s novels, but was unsuccessful. Don’t even get me started on the whole ‘I kissed Drake’, ‘oh no, Drake actually kissed Lily, but I saw it’, ‘no wait, he lied, I did kiss him’ blah, blah, blah.
Then, we have her parents. I hated this book for making no real effort to try and understand Flora’s mother and her point of view. She was painted as the villain of the piece when she is obviously still a victim of PTSD. I won’t touch on the whole, there’s-no-way-she’d-buy-tranquilizers-off-the-internet story, because I’d simply get too upset.
Instead, I’ll touch briefly on Flora going off her pills. Okay, I understand that the mother’s decision to lobotomise her daughter is wrong. However, Flora is completely wild without the help of her medication. She climbs onto the roof, she nearly gets eaten by a damn polar bear… MULTIPLE TIMES! I think the idea that she should be allowed to do anything is unrealistic unless she undergoes a lot of work with the doctor. We all have limitations, some are bigger than others, but it’s important to be aware of them.
In conclusion, this book was not for me. I gave it 2/5 stars (one of those stars is because I finished it, the other is for Jacob). I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone suffering from mental illness, you’d probably find it offensive. In fact, I’m not sure who I’d recommend it to, but I know some people have enjoyed it so good for them!
If you do end up reading this book, or if you’ve read it in the past, please me know what you thought in the comments! I hope you enjoy it more than I did.