The Impossible Knife of Memory

The Impossible Knife of Memory

Book - 2014
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For the past five years, Hayley Kincaid and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own. Will being back home help Andy?s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over?
Publisher: New York : Viking, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), [2014]
ISBN: 9780670012091
Branch Call Number: YF ANDER-L
Characteristics: 391 pages ; 21 cm


From the critics

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Oct 22, 2020

Good book.
Odd book.
Different book.
Kinda strange book.
Deep book.
A book.

Sep 17, 2017

This book was absolutely incredible; I've reread this book so many times, and bought my own copy. This book has such a powerful message, and brought me to tears. The book really shows the struggles of learning how to cope with PTSD, and the dangers of turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Laurie Halse Anderson wrote a heart wrenching detailed book that just sucks you into the story. It’s amazing to read as Haley grows and learns to cope and begins to experience life, and not just be stuck behind her father’s darkness. Overall, this book was so amazing; I would recommend it to anyone looking for a well written, stunning book to read.
- @CastielWinchester of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library

The Impossible Knife Of Memory is a quite sad & emotional book. It’s a book about living with an ex-war-veteran father with PTSD and constantly being on the run. The personality of the protagonist works flawlessly with the situation that she’s in. The story is about a normally introverted person actually finding herself in a relationship, and having to balance being with the love interest, and caring for her father, who usually spends all day at home. The pacing of this book could not have worked better with the situation. The hatred toward one of the characters can get a little overbearing at times, but that will not stop me from giving this book a 4.5 out of 5 and recommending it to anyone.
- @RhythmDragon of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

ArapahoeStaff1 Aug 14, 2017

What a great realistic story with a portrayal of what it is like to live with PTSD, and what it is like to be a child of a parent suffering from PTSD. While at times this story is a little over the top and unbelievable, I think it gives great insight into all aspects families deal with when a soldier returns from service and is trying to learn to cope with the experience and the move back to regular civilian life.

DBRL_KrisA Nov 26, 2016

A pretty decent read overall. Yes, there is some teen angst, and some teen everyone-is-zombies-and-I-hate-the-world, but the book also gives a very clear (and, it seems to me, accurate) depiction of both Andy's war-related PTSD and Hayley's anxiety attacks. I would have liked a little more of Finn's storyline - maybe a Hayley/Finn alternating chapter thing - but really the emphasis is on Hayley and her father and the heavy emotional and psychological issues they're dealing with.
I really liked this one. Not only for the big issues covered, but also just for the nerd love between Hayley and Finn. I wanted to wrap them up (with a big unzipped sleeping bag) and protect them from everything.

FindingJane Jul 11, 2016

Hayley is one of those literary teenagers you love to hate. She’s rude, hostile, standoffish, deceitful, insufferably outspoken and sees the world as populated by zombies (fellow alumnae) and tyrants (faculty). But she has cause for her jaundiced view of the world. She’s skirting the border of irreversible poverty, flunking her classes and desperate to save her father, a Veteran spiraling down into a morass of alcoholism, drug use and PTSD.

In this biting novel about a girl trying to maintain the illusion of normalcy when everything in her world is on the verge of collapse, Ms. Anderson exposes the painful underbelly of adolescence. The language is unsparing of people’s foibles, even when Hayley is lying to others and herself. There are bursts of humor scattered here and there; the novel isn’t relentlessly grim. But Hayley’s desolate plight—a girl too smart for her surroundings yet on the verge of descending into the life of trailer trash—takes you by the throat and doesn’t let go.

Interspersed with Hayley’s viewpoint are strange interludes that reveal themselves to be harrowing memories of warfare. We can only assume they come from Hayley’s father, a man haunted by real-life demons. In his own way, he’s as anxious to escape his past as Hayley is, even though he’s jeopardizing her future. It makes this novel three dimensional in scope, as well as the growing understanding that other people have their own problems and no one’s life is shiny or perfect.

This is one of those edgy YA novels you can’t put down until you come to the sobering conclusion. Ms. Anderson proves once again that she understands the downside of being a teenager.

Mar 20, 2016

Hayley is a struggling high school student who lives with her troubled father. Hayley tries to help her father seek out help for his PTSD, but he continues to spiral downward. The beginning of the book really dragged, with Finn’s attempts to date Hayley taking up way too much of the novel. There’s a sense of dread throughout the book, and it’s understandable why Hayley is always expecting the worst out of everyone in her life. This isn’t one of my favorite Laurie Halse Anderson novels, but it is well worth reading.

Sep 14, 2015

I was a huge fan of Speak. HUGE. So I was pretty excited to pick this up. It started off really great. The storyline has great potential, but it kind of falls flat towards the middle and then the ending was a total mess. I feel like a lot of questions I had about Haley and what she's struggling with went completely unanswered and I'm kind of left with this feeling of "what actually happened in this book?"

Jun 21, 2015

Definitely one of my favourite books. I love Finn and Hayley's relationship, I was rooting for them throughout the novel. I AM READING IT AGAIN BC I LOVE IT SO MUCH I DON'T THINK THIS IS HEALTHY

0Charlie Jan 03, 2015

This is one of those books where you go - "And I thought my life was bad!". Kind of like a train wreck that you can't look away from, I kept reading to find out how it could resolve itself. Although the climax is believable, the aftermath wrapped itself up rather quickly. It is well written and recommended.

Fantastic writing. Powerful story of coming to grips with PTSD and the effects it can have in a family. Fans of John Green and Gayle Forman will enjoy this book.

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May 19, 2020

blue_cat_22969 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Feb 23, 2018

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Jun 24, 2017

white_wolf_80 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Jul 29, 2016

kenakris thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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NB3 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Jan 13, 2015

goldbean thinks this title is suitable for 11 years and over

Jan 04, 2015

SeanTo thinks this title is suitable for 9 years and over

yellow_raccoon_7 Jul 24, 2014

yellow_raccoon_7 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over


Add a Summary
LibraryK8 Jan 31, 2014

When Haley calls home and no one answers the phone by the 2nd ring, she is figures her dad is sleeping. When no one picks up by the 10th ring, she hopes he is mowing the lawn. When no one picks up by the 20th, she knows something is wrong. Something is horribly wrong. She begs a ride from Finn, the editor of the school newspaper who has been nagging her to write for him. But the car is too small, Finn drives to slow, and something is wrong at home. Haley can't breathe, she can't think, she needs out! When a police car pulls up beside them at a stop-light, Haley is down to her last thread of sanity. She jumps out of the car, to Finn's surprise and runs home. There is her dad, drunk, lying on the floor, but breathing...for now.

Andy, her father, an Iraq war veteran, came home from the war, but his head is still full of sand and blood and bombs. Unable to escape the PTSD that haunts him, Andy self medicates with drugs, alcohol and violence. Haley tries to take care of both of them while her best friend's family splits apart, her alcoholic step-mother returns, and Finn asks her out on an anti-date. Can Haley's life handle love right now? Perhaps it is exactly what she needs?


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PimaLib_MegginK May 06, 2015

"They were coming, on wings from far away, all the pictures and voices, smells, tastes, all the everything from the past was flying toward me as fast as it could."


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