Last Friday I flew to New Jersey alone, which gave me a perfect chance to do some serious reading sans interruptions. I brought along two print editions and one e-book with me for options and "just in case" I ended up with more reading time than anticipated. A few minutes into the flight, we hadn't even pushed away from the gate, I started reading The Memory Book by Laura Avery. I would have finished it before landing at Newark International except for one small problem, I forgot to pack a handkerchief and had no tissues to wipe my crying eyes and blow my dripping nose, so I had to give it a break until I had the needed supplies available.
Samantha McCoy is a talented and driven high school senior who seems to have her whole life planned out. First she wants to win the National Debate Tournament. Next she wants to give a speech at graduation as the valedictorian. After a summer of transition she plans on attending NYU in the Fall to major in economics and public policy and finally law school at Harvard. Ultimately she wants to be a lawyer who represents civil rights violations. But all of her plans are in jeopardy when she learns she has a genetic condition called Neilsson-Pick, type C (NPC) which will erode her memory and attack her body, eventually killing her.
In an effort to help Future Sam, Sammie starts a diary of her memories. As events happen or reflecting back on past events, Sammie chronicles her life. As the disease progresses the reader is even given glimpses of times when memory fails and she regresses to an almost child-like stage. The once driven girl now has to face a new and limited reality about herself and her goals. As she does this she finds herself relying more on friends, especially a new love interest, Stuart, and an old childhood friend Cooper. And, you guessed it, a love triangle develops...but it advances the story and doesn't dominate it. Toward the end of the book other people, mainly family and a few friends, also write entries into Samantha's memory book so readers get a fuller picture of how Samantha's disease is progressing and how her life has impacted them. Hence, the need for tissues!
When Sammie's mother writes about her happiest memories she writes these poignant woods, "Words cannot capture my grief at watching you fall away little by little. But I suppose in losing some layers, your golden core came out." As readers we get to see that golden core, too, and it is both lovely and heartbreaking to witness.
As I closed the book I wondered to myself why I haven't seen any reviews of it. Surely the YA lit world must be lighting up about another sweet, sad, funny book about a teen who is dying. I'm wondering if there is a title issue with this book. When I googled it there were many more hits for another book by the same title by a different author. That could prove confusing to folks trying to find out about the book. When I found the review for this book on Kirkus Reviews some lady made a devastating comment telling readers what a travesty the book was and no one should read or buy it and they should avoid the author, too. Then the next comment pointed out that she was talking about the wrong book and author, to which the first woman to make a comment admitted she was wrong and got things goofed up. See? Confusing.
One thing I am not confused about is how much I like the book. I think readers who enjoyed The Fault In Our Stars or All the Bright Places will like this book, too. With three starred reviews it should at least be considered by the Printz committee, though they don't usually select such cry-worthy books, I will recommend it for inclusion on our Mock Printz list when the team convenes in September.
Source: Checked out from the GKHS library, a new book just processed this summer
2017 Printz Award Contenders
28 / 35 books. 80% done!