United By Pop received a free copy of The Memory Book in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are our own.
Title: The Memory Book
Author: Lara Avery
Overall rating: 3.5/5
Great for: lovers of romantic coming-of-age stories featuring marginalised characters
Themes: coming-of-age, young adult, contemporary, romance, illness
Review: I came for the cover. I stayed for the story.
This book is formatted in journal style entries penned by the fictional Samantha McCoy. Sammie is a straight A over-achiever with a love for The Lord of the Rings and a strict schedule for how her life is going to pan out. That is until she is diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder that sees her memory depleted and has a 100% fatality rate.
Faced with the questions of her own mortality, Sammie must learn to accept her new fate and learn to understand that life is not measured in statistics and test results.
Sammie proved an engaging protagonist. Her diary entries allowed the reader to be privy to her innermost thoughts, which often proved emotional due to the rawness of penmanship exhibited. She sugar-coated nothing, both in her journal and in real-life, which provided some hilarious anecdotes to sweeten the poignancy. Her intensity made her the girl she was and is what allowed her to become a woman not defined by her disease.
This book could easily make the reader overcome with sadness, but that wasn’t fully the case. This delivered so many important messages about what life is and how to live yours the fullest. Because not everybody has the chance to.
Sammie is so young and there is so much she will not get to witness, but the life she has remaining she spends on experiencing a series of firsts. First love. First loss. First friend. First fight.
The first portion of the book was dedicated to Sammie’s school life and the denial to her worsening illness. The second part saw a different Sammie emerge. One more aware of her surroundings and the people who had impacted her life. A romance ensues and there began my only minor grievance with this book.
I can be partial to the odd romantic encounter, but this one dominated much of the story and went against my own personal preferences. That is not to say that the romance wasn’t believable or adorable because it was, but it monopolised a little too much of the text for my tastes.
The ending, however, left me a teary mess and unable to write this review for a few days, as my emotions were just too raw. I feel the author did a tremendous job of displaying marginalised characters, teenagers and those with dementia and memory-depleting illnesses. Nothing felt cliched or forced and, if you can battle through your emotions, this has a very important message to tell.