An affecting portrayal of living with amnesia and discovering one’s own agency.

THE ONE MEMORY OF FLORA BANKS

A white British girl with anterograde amnesia travels to the Arctic to chase after a boy whose kiss has stayed in her memory when nothing else has.

Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks cannot remember anything that happened before she was 10 years old, when doctors removed a tumor from her brain. Her memory resets itself every few hours, and ever present written reminders help orient her to her reality. Until one evening, when her best friend’s boyfriend, Drake (also white), kisses her, and she finds that she can remember every detail of their brief time together. The next day Drake leaves to study abroad in Norway, leaving Flora clinging to her singular new memory and the desperate hope that Drake holds the key to her recovery. When her parents inadvertently leave her home alone, she takes matters into her own hands: she travels to Norway to look for Drake. Despite difficulties and delusions, she meets charming strangers who help her along the way and ends up discovering hidden parts of herself amid the icy, beautiful Arctic. Slowly, memories of her past begin to filter through and puzzle pieces fall into place, revealing that there is more to Flora’s story than she realizes. Flora’s voice is frank and childlike, yet her verve and determination help to drive forward a necessarily cyclical plot.

An affecting portrayal of living with amnesia and discovering one’s own agency. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-54701-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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GIRL IN PIECES

After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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