Author: Emily Barr
Publish Date: 12 January 2017
Genre: Romance, realism, illness
Audience: Young adult
‘The One Memory of Flora Banks’ was another book recommended to me by a friend. I hadn’t heard much about this book before I received it, and thus wasn’t too shocked to discover it was only published this year! Nevertheless, I was itching to get stuck into another YA novel, and the premise was extremely intriguing.
‘The One Memory of Flora Banks’ centres around a girl, Flora, suffering from a form of amnesia which means she cannot retain memories for longer than 2 hours at a time. Flora still has her memory from before she got amnesia, meaning she is effectively a 10 year old in a 17 year old’s body. However, after attending a party, she finds she has held on to one memory – she kissed a boy on the beach.
The thing which stuck with me the most was how beautiful Emily Barr’s writing is. Sheer emotion radiates from every sentence, and I haven’t felt so much sadness for a book character in a long while. Barr cleverly portrays Flora’s illness through her writing style; it is fairly simple to reflect Flora’s 10 year old mind, but at the same time it is heavy-going due to the amount of repetition involved to emphasise how frustrating and confusing the world is to her. Upon reading other reviews, I discovered a lot of people found the amount of repetition to damage their experience with the novel, but in my opinion it added extreme depth and realism to Flora’s situation. I finished the book in just over 24 hours, which shows that whilst the writing was accessible, it also left me pining to continue as soon as I could! In addition, Barr is able to create such intense and vivid images through her writing, particularly with the settings, and I am certain that most of these images will be staying with my imagination for a good while.
Barr’s use of characters was another phenomenal aspect in ‘The One Memory of Flora Banks’. I instantly knew which characters I loved and which I loathed, despite being so trapped in Flora’s state of mind. For example, not once do you meet Flora’s brother in the present, and yet his presence in the novel is over-whelming, contributing massively to the plot and leaving you with an immense amount of emotion. For me, this is incredible character work, and I don’t think I have ever become so attached to a character I did not meet in the present. In addition, the character of Flora was extremely likeable, as were Agi and Toby, the friends she makes through the novel, which also helped to make the novel a pleasant experience.
In truth, I was worried that certain aspects of the plot were to become another cliché and over-used YA trope (no spoilers!). However, thankfully Barr’s unique focus on amnesia throws this off, and gives a suitable reasoning for Flora’s actions. One particular feature which didn’t blow me away was the ending, as whilst it wasn’t completely cliché, it was a little too unrealistic and optimistic for me. I did even consider rating the novel down a star due to this, but overall I decided it hadn’t disappointed me to an extent which knocked the other outstanding areas. Furthermore, the novel is split into three parts, and sometimes I find this to be an unnecessary addition to YA books. However, Barr makes extremely good use of these splits as each part has an entirely different feel to it, in both tone and emotion, which adds an extra layer of interest to the novel.
In conclusion, ‘The One Memory of Flora Banks’ by Emily Barr is a stunning read from start to finish. Both the writing and the characters are impeccable, and it is a reading experience which will leave you feeling emotion like no other. If you are looking for a new YA read, I cannot recommend ‘The One Memory of Flora Banks’ enough.