Please Note: I received a free copy of The Memory Book from it’s publisher Hachette Australia in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review in any way, and all thoughts expressed are solely my own.
“Life is not just a series of triumphs.”
The Memory Book by Lara Avery
Published July 26, 2016 by Alloy Entertainment
Source: Hachette Australia (publisher)
“They tell me that my memory will never be the same, that I’ll start forgetting things. At first just a little, and then a lot. So I’m writing to remember.”
Samantha McCoy has it all mapped out. First she’s going to win the national debating championship, then she’s going to move to New York and become a human rights lawyer. But when Sammie discovers that a rare disease is going to take away her memory, the future she’d planned so perfectly is derailed before it’s started. What she needs is a new plan.
So the Memory Book is born: Sammie’s notes to her future self, a document of moments great and small. Realising that her life won’t wait to be lived, she sets out on a summer of firsts: The first party; The first rebellion; The first friendship; The last love.
Through a mix of heartfelt journal entries, mementos, and guest posts from friends and family, readers will fall in love with Sammie, a brave and remarkable girl who learns to live and love life fully, even though it’s not the life she planned.
When I picked this one up to read, I didn’t know exactly what I was getting into. I hadn’t heard a whole lot about it. I’d seen a few people post about it on instagram, and got the vibe that it was going to be a bit sad. But what I didn’t know was just how sad it was going to be. Not even 10 pages in, I decided that this book was going to destroy me.
Samantha “Sammie” McCoy has her next few years all planned out. She’s going to win the national debating championship, graduate high school, and then move to New York to study. But that’s not what life has planned for her.
After visiting the doctors for what she thought was just a migraine, she is diagnosed with a rare disease called Niemann-Pick Type C. This disease starts out a little like dementia. It affects the memory, and then slowly attacks the body and shuts everything down. I generally tend to avoid books that focus around any sort of disease or illness, because I always start suffering from some intense hypochondria. And shit man, this book totally fucked me up.
Sammie is determined not to let the disease beat her, and she won’t let anything get in the way of her plans, so she creates a “memory book” for her future self.This book is her own little journal where she shares her memories and key points of her life, so that if she begins to forget, she’ll still be able to remember.
Overall, the book isn’t actually that sad, but quite amusing. The main focus isn’t on the disease itself, but Sammie’s life. For me, books can go two ways when it comes to high school and relationship drama. More often than not, I find myself tired and weary of the same-story-different-people situations, but Sammie has such an incredible sense of humour, and the way she uses it to tackle all of the everyday dramas of her teenage life actually left me wanting for more.
Her humour really took the edge off of what you know is lurking behind her words. The strength that it took to not let the disease get her down, and to not let it affect her life and get in the way of her aspirations is something that I truly admire her for. She felt so real. She’s the type of person that I’d want to be friends with. She’s honestly one of the best characters that I’ve ever read.
Sammie’s decline came about rather swiftly, and it’s honestly not something that I was completely prepared for. I would have liked if the decline had perhaps been a little more gradual, but I don’t really have too much of a complaint to make there.
Although I didn’t cry, The Memory Book was devastatingly beautiful, and I loved every minute of it. It was an excellent portrayal of strength, resilience, and the hardships of life.
Have you guys read The Memory Book? What other books have absolutely ruined you? I’d love to know!
Until next time,