Good memories are ones that you want to keep remembering and bad ones you want to forget. But in Emily Barr’s The One Memory of Flora Banks, Flora can only remember one thing out of the last seven years of her life.
Flora Banks has no short-term memory after an event when she was ten years old. Seven years later, she’s coping to remember important things by writing them down, either in a notebook or on her hand or arm. But when she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the night before he leaves for school, Flora can remember the details of and surrounding the kiss. Convinced that Drake may be the key to her recovering her ability to remember, she takes her very protective parents’ trip to Paris that leaves her at home as an opportunity to travel to Drake in Svalbard, where he’s studying. In making her way to Norway, armed only with her notes and determination, Flora learns what she’s actually capable of.
The basic concept of this narrative was interesting and fostered an understanding of the lengths people go while living with amnesia; however, while the repetitive information and situations help to place the reader into Flora’s shoes, it was rather frustrating to keep getting stuck in a loop of past actions and lack any sort of appreciable forward progress. I wasn’t too keen on the one memory that stuck with Flora and drove her to finally take some independent action in her life, because although kissing a boy for the first time can be memorable, this reduces Flora to a cliché and she was such an intriguing character otherwise. While a decent story that could relate various age groups, it is difficult to place who the intended audience is – at times Flora behaves and thinks like she’s ten and others like she’s seventeen, which are two vastly different audiences, yet the writing reflects both in unequal measure.
Overall, I’d give it a 3 out of 5 stars.