The One Memory of Flora Banks
by Emily Barr
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 won’t lie, I was sobbing just a little bit at the end. Just a tiny weeny bit. You know just one tear. LOL. Obviously that’s a lie, I was full on heartbreak sobbing with red eyes and heaving breaths.
This book is sort of strange because I found a good chunk of the book quite boring. Before Flora’s journey to the Arctic, the story is quite boring plot-wise but interestingly, I became really hooked towards the end of the story which is when things begin to be explained and stuff actually starts to happen. As well as this, it was difficult to get used Flora’s point of view. Because we’re in her head and seeing things from her eyes, we are just as clueless as her. Her amnesia becomes ours which can be frustrating at times but it’s also ingenious at the same time.
Flora Banks is a seventeen girl, coddled by her parents because of her amnesia. Her life changes when she kisses her best friend’s boyfriend and realises that, that is the first new memory she has formulated since her accident. Soon after, her brother sick in Paris which has causes her parents to leave home alone thinking that best friend Paige is with her. In fact Paige is pretty mad about the whole kiss.
It was interesting to see how Flora manages her amnesia with notes on her hands and a notebook to read if she ever gets annoyed. There are also pills that she takes which immediately sets off alarm bells of course. The book focuses on this memory of Drake – the boyfriend – and Flora soon becomes obsessed with this memory in a wacko way. She writes his name everywhere and even goes far enough to etch it on her arm. She revels in the dirty emails her and Drake send it each other and thinks about his every single damn moment. I’m not exaggerating. This takes up a good half of the book and I honestly didn’t really enjoy this part. It was uneventful, slow and Flora was starting to creep me out.
Flora has the resolve of a little girl. Anything she wants, she will try to get with all the determination she has. It is this resolve that people are attracted to. In the Arctic, people love Flora with her sweetness and total honesty but it is also in these chapters that there are the most gaps on Flora’s memory. She makes friends, writes them on her hand and there are scenes where we ourselves don’t even remember how some of the words got on her hands. It’s in the Arctic where we really get absorbed into her thought processes and sheer determination. The scenes that follow Flora’s finding of Drake are definitely the most emotional. There are epic plot twists that I won’t reveal but they with definitely result in some shedded tears. Especially her brother’s letter and also the revelation that Flora is actually a pretty amazing person touches your heart in such a significant way. Even though we never meet her brother, he is still one of the most biggest characters. All of Flora’s thoughts come back to him one way of the other and especially at the end, his significance is even bigger as previously thought. This book doesn’t actually end up being a romance novel but one about the love between siblings. Those books are always my favourite.
All in all, ‘The One Memory of Flora Banks’ is a novel which such a profound, original and emotional ending. Despite it’s initial slow pace, this story actually ends up to be quite an insightful and entertaining read.