Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora's brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend's boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora's fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.
With little more than the words "be brave" inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must "be brave" if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.
‘The One Memory of Flora Banks’ is the most unique book I have ever read. Not just because of the plot, but also because of the main protagonist, Flora Banks. Throughout the novel, Flora’s memory is constantly re-setting and Barr writes this exceptionally well without generating confusion.
Despite the book’s creativeness, I really struggled to get into this novel. The first half feels like it is told through the eyes/mentality of ten year old Flora, and while this sounds good in theory, there were elements of this thread that had me wanting to shake Flora and tell her she does not love Drake – and for goodness sake, why are you thinking about sex?!
The above conflict arises because of the narrator: Flora swaps between the mentality of a ten year old and her real age of a seventeen. Flora thinks she should be talking about sex and sending naked photos – but it was all a bit ugh... Not to mention, how on earth did she know about sexting (well sex-emailing) and sending naked photos? Her memory resets every few hours, and this information would have been wiped from her memory if she learned it as a teenager – so what on earth did she learn when she was 10?! Saying that, the second half of the novel did become quite enjoyable; it surprised me and kept me turning each page.
Generally (sexting and nude photos excluded) Flora is an intriguing character; she is smart and headstrong. She sets her mind to something and she follows through with it despite her memory re-setting multiple times a day. She is a fighter and she keeps going, even when the odds seem against her. It was interesting seeing her character development the longer she was off her medication and the more “free” she became, although at times it did lead to some questionable choices.
Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the other characters in the book. Drake is an absolute pig of a person and that’s all I’ll say about him, as he doesn’t deserve anything more. I can’t even begin to discuss Flora’s parents and their actions; it was horrible and the truth had my jaw dropping in anger.
Overall, I found that the novel was okay: it was quite different, intriguing and a little fun, but it fell flat in character development, as far as I am concerned. I had trouble relating to the characters, and this is a core element of what I look for in a book.