BOOKBLOG: Emily Barr

The One Memory of Flora Banks: heartbreaking, engaging and memorable.


“Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora’s brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora’s fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.

With little more than the words “be brave” inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must “be brave” if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.”

I was lucky enough to be sent this by my wonderful friend Rachel and it had sat on my TBR for a while and now I am not sure why I didn’t pick it up sooner! Emily Barr had been a guest author on our #SundayYA chats (Sunday 6-7pm, come along, it’s my favourite corner of the internet!) and I sat and just watched as I hadn’t read but the more I found out about Flora the more I needed to read it!

The story is about a young lady named Flora, who has no short term memory. She has memories of when she was younger, but then she had an accident and she has no memory of anything after that. Throughout the book you get the same memories repeated and the same thing over and over. This frustrated me a lot initially but as I read it became obvious that this was necessary and that in essence that’s what Flora was going through. One day she kisses a boy and this memory becomes the one thing that she can remember and that changes her life. It means that she can remember something. What follows is an almighty journey of Flora’s own self-discovery, through love and loss

Flora remembers things by writing them down in her notebook, taking pictures of them, writing them on her arm. It’s incredible how important these notes become. Her whole life revolves around the notes she takes. The one time she loses them things unravel a bit. But the kindness of strangers helps that situation. I loved the dynamic of the strangers in this book – some who are genuinely strangers that Flora meets when she travels to weird and wonderful places, and some who are her family, friends, people she goes to school with that she just doesn’t remember. 

Flora is a character I really liked. She’s brave and ballsy. She doesn’t realise her own strength. She’s got a stubborn streak. She is so beautifully written. Flora at the end of the book made my cry. Her journey made me sob. I really liked learning about her and her life throughout the book. Her brother is a particular highlight of this story. He does things for her that made me truly fall for him – he is the quintessential big brother. I think their relationship made me think of my own brother, who really is my best friend. 

S x

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