The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr
mild spoilers ahead
I look at my hands. One of them says FLORA BE BRAVE.
Flora has anterograde amnesia. She can’t remember anything day-to-day: the joke her friend made, the instructions her parents gave her, how old she is. Then she kisses someone she shouldn’t, and the next day she remembers it. It’s the first time she’s remembered anything since she was ten. But the boy is gone. She thinks he’s moved to the Arctic. Will following him be the key to unlocking her memory? Who can she trust?
When I first picked up the book, it did take me a few chapters before I was used to the way Flora’s story was told. Each time her memory disappeared, she would experience everything again and it was interesting to see her opinion of something for the second (or third or fourth time).
You know a writer has done well when you want to hate a character for their actions but you can’t because their reasons have been explained so well. That was how I felt about Drake and Flora’s parents – I wanted to dislike them but I understood why they did what they did, which is why I want to praise Emily Barr’s book so much.
Even if I shook my head at the parents treatment of Flora’s condition, it was hard to dislike them – their baby lost her memory every few hours and often reminded them of the journey they took that led her to her amnesia. I felt genuine sadness each time her parents had to deal with Flora’s questions about going to the theme park but I would have liked for the dad to stand up and show his disagreement but it’s easy to see why he didn’t.
Much like with the parents, I didn’t condone what Drake did either. His actions could have harmed Flora’s mental state but I also understood (Emily’s writing is so good) why he did it. To have Flora turn up on his doorstep would have been a huge shock but considering he must have known, I think he should’ve found her.
Throughout the whole book, it’s easy to see Flora as an unreliable narrator – from experiencing everything with fresh eyes every few hours to her blind faith in Drake – but I think it’s that Bambi quality that made me connect with her the most. In the end, it was lovely to see Flora’s confidence growing and taking that journey by herself.
If there’s one thing I want for Flora, it’s for her to have freedom. To see the doctors or travel. Or whatever it is that she wants to do with her life. After her journey, she deserves it!
I adored Emily’s writing and I can’t wait to read her next book, The Truth and Lies of Ella Black.
If you’ve read Flora what did you think? Let me know!