Book Review: The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

My Rating: ★★★☆☆

Genre(s): Young Adult

Plot: After running from his personal demons for a long time, Hayley Kincain’s ex-military father decides to finally settle down in the town where he grew up. As Hayley struggles to cope with the symptoms of her father’s PTSD, she also tries to overcome her own painful memories so she can lead a normal, teenage life. But a normal, teenage life is not as easily attainable as it seems.


  • Finn. Everything about Finn.
  • When you have a parent who cannot care for themselves, you have to care for them. Anderson wrote an AMAZING example of how a teenager tries to balance their social life with the harsh realities of their home life.
  • The end (no spoilers) was heartwarming compared to the rest of the book.
  • As much as I disliked Hayley, she said a lot of things I could relate to.


  • This book almost sugarcoats PTSD
  • Hayley is awful. I know that’s the point, but I really hated her character.
  • The texting. Whyyyy?
  • Seriously no one actually puts???? that??? many??? question????? marks???????????? on?????????????? things?????????????????????
  • Hayley is incredibly closed-minded
  • I wasn’t left with that “wow, this book is incredible/broke me/means so much to me” like everyone said I would.

Favorite Quotes: 

  • “I needed to hear the world but didn’t want the world to know I was listening.” I relate. So hard.
  • “I’d treat myself to a reading marathon all weekend. All the ice cream I could eat, all the pages I could read. Heaven.”
  • “The books I’d checked out of the library earlier in the week were still stacked on my bureau, whispering my name and begging to be read.”
  • “It’s always there—fear—and if you don’t stay on top of it, you’ll drown.”

My Thoughts: It’s not often that I’ll change my rating on a book. But after reading this book, then waiting so long to review it, I’ve had a lot of time to contemplate my feelings toward it. I didn’t like it nearly as much as I thought I did, so I bumped it down from four stars to three. Like I said, it’s not often that I do this. At all. That being said, this was a good book. If you went into this book with little to no knowledge of PTSD, you would get a textbook explanation in the form of Hayley’s father. However, I know enough about the disorder to know that his behavior, while common, is copy-and-paste, and I wish that she’d written him at least a little atypical. Hayley, as the main character, was super unlikeable. However, there’s no rule that says that every reader has to like every main character, and I understand that Anderson was writing Hayley as a reflection of growing up the way she did. All in all, it’s a good book. But it didn’t leave me with that “wow, this book…” feeling that I was expecting.

Laurie Halse Anderson

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