Top Ten Tuesday- Authors I've read the most books from

toptentuesday

Yay for Top Ten Tuesday! This weekly feature is brought to us by The Broke and the Bookish, one of my favorite bookish blogs! Each week, we have a different theme, this week is Top Ten Authors I’ve Read the Most Books From. I don’t know if I can do this justice really, but I shall give it a shot. Continue reading

Review: The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

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Synopsis (Goodreads):

For the past five years, Hayley Kincaid and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own.

Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over? The Impossible Knife of Memory is Laurie Halse Anderson at her finest: compelling, surprising, and impossible to put down.

Review:

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson is a gripping and heart-wrenching journey through the effects of PTSD on a man, Andy, and his 17 year old daughter, Hayley. Andy loves his daughter, but is haunted by ghosts of his past. As a result he relies on alcohol and drugs to try to combat the memories that are tearing him apart on a daily basis, leaving Hayley to care for him as if she was the parent.

Hayley, the narrator of the book finds herself torn between having a “normal” teenage life, taking care and worrying about her war-torn father, and memories of her own past. She does so with dignity and courage, despite her inability to trust anyone around her, not even her closest friends. She often pushes the people who care about her the most away in order to self-preserve and take care of her father, to try to keep his illness a secret from her schoolmates and teachers.

I love how raw The Impossible Knife of Memory is. Laurie Halse Anderson writes in such a realistic manner that I often found myself staring at the page at the end of a chapter with my mouth open in utter shock and disbelief. Both Hayley  and Andy’s lives are difficult, they are both teetering on the edge and are barely able to hold themselves and one another up. This is especially apparent in the chapters written from Andy’s perspective, where we get a peek at the horrifying things that he experienced during his tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While the book itself has heavy themes and material, I love the hope that Laurie Halse Anderson brings into her storytelling. Hayley desperately needs hope, and finds it through her new friend, Finn as romance blossoms between them. While his life is also troubled, Finn tries to crack Hayley’s tough exterior to get to know her and show her that there is hope for her and for her father.

Laurie Halse Anderson is one of the most influential authors in Young Adult literature for a reason. She writes about real issues faced by teens and she doesn’t sugar coat or talk down to her readers. She tackles the tough shit, issues that are “taboo,” ones that people don’t want to talk about, but that need to be brought to the forefront (yet does so in a sensitive manner). Her words can make you laugh out loud one minute (Hayley’s comparison of her classmates to zombies), punch you in the gut the next (the chapters written from Andy’s perspective), and shortly after have you in tears because of something that was written so beautifully or something that is so heart-wrenching that you can’t help but tear up.

I can’t give The Impossible Knife of Memory enough praise. Not only was it a beautiful and well-written book that tackled very difficult subjects, Laurie Halse Anderson has drawn from her own life experiences and what she saw her father go through as a veteran with PTSD. While reading it, it was almost impossible to find a decent place to stop reading and go back to work (go to bed, make/eat dinner, clean). Laurie Halse Anderson has written yet another masterpiece.

5/5 stars

Find The Impossible Knife of Memory at your local bookstore or online at

Barnes and Noble

Amazon

Find Laurie Halse Anderson Onlineindex

Website/blog

Facebook

Twitter

My friend Chrissi also read/reviewed this book! Check out what she thought here! And keep an eye out for our blog feature on The Impossible Knife of Memory!

Early January Book Haul!!!

So I caved and bought a bunch of books just because I am so unbelievably behind with books that have been released in the past year or so. (hides behind the pile in shame)

I thought I would share these awesome titles with you!

indexThe Impossible Knife of Memory by (the wonderful) Laurie Halse Anderson

This was one of my most anticipated books of 2014, so when it was released on Tuesday (1/7) I had to get it ASAP.  I am in the middle of reading it now and am having difficulty finding a place in it to put it down when I need to. Stay tuned for my review.

HouseofHadesThe House of Hades by Rick Riordan

I just have to finish re-reading the Heroes of Olympus series (I’m up to Mark of Athena at the moment) because I feel like I don’t remember enough of what happened in the first 3 books to just pick up the 4th one and go with it.

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Attachments: A Novel by Rainbow Rowell

I loved Fangirl and Eleanor & Park so much that I couldn’t resist Attachments when I was perusing through books online.

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The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

I’ve heard nothing but good things and the premise sounded fabulous. I think this might be the book that I start reading next 🙂

And then there are the books that (annoyingly) haven’t come yet.

I mean, come on Barnes and Noble. I ordered 5 books on the same day. You shipped them all the day after. In two separate packages. I got one the other day and have to wait a week longer for the next one??? What f*ckery is this?

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Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

I love dystopian YA, so I am definitely hoping that this novel lives up to all of the hype. I only bought the first book in the series because I have heard some mixed reviews and I’m genuinely hoping that I like it.

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Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

I’ve been wanting to read this one since it was released. I love gothic horror, so I hope it is as good as it promises.

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Under the never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Once again, I have heard such amazing things about this book that it was difficult to not buy it. I have been meaning to pick it up for a while, so I’m excited to read it.

*crosses my fingers in the hope the last 3 books get here soon*

Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak gives hope to many teens and adults

Speak_1st_Edition_CoverLast week I read something about one of my favorite books that really angered me. While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I feel that this guy’s comments were ridiculous and out of line. He called Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson “child pornography” and said it promotes violence and sex in under-aged students and that the result is child abuse.

My response to this (minus the obscenities) was that he could not be more wrong.

While this guy goes through and cites all of the places he finds offensive in this book he has failed to see Speak‘s true message. Yes, this book has been challenged and/or banned in different schools, districts, etc. around the country for it’s subject matter, but it sends out a much more important message to children and adults, men and women alike.

Speak, if you haven’t read it, is about a young girl who is sexually assaulted at a party before her 9th grade year. She calls the police on her attacker and as a result loses all of her friends because they see her as a snitch. She is forced to attend school with her attacker and is bullied by her former friends and her peers. Her family isn’t supportive of her and she has no one to talk to about her horrific experiences, so she stop speaking all together. She finds solace in an un-used janitor’s closet and in her art work, which finally gives her a voice.

Yes, it is about a tough and touchy subject. But it is an important subject to teach children about.

Laurie Halse Anderson, author of Speak, responded to this guy’s accusations with this  “SPEAK is cautionary tale about the emotional aftermath of rape. It tackles bullying, depression, rape, sexual harassment, and family dysfunction. It teaches children that when bad things happen, they need to speak up, even when it’s hard. It has given hope to tens of thousands of readers since 1999. It is a standard in curriculum across the country.”

This book teaches children if they experience any of these things to speak up about it. There is help for them. Other people are experiencing or have experienced similar things. It shows them that they are not alone.

I spoke with a woman last week about how Speak helped her. She stated “I read the book in 9th grade. A year before then I had been a victim of sexual assault. This book was incredibly moving for me because I knew how she felt, it was like I was reading about me in a way. It really helped me cope with how I was feeling at the time. It helped me move on and realize that talking helped. It showed me that if you dont SPEAK then nothing can change or be resolved. Pornographic is not a word I would use to describe SPEAK . Deliverance has a scene which is certainly more pornographic and violent than anything this book touches on. I found it uplifting and motivational and triumphant as she confronts her attacker and her emotions. A superb read.”

Children younger than the 8th-10th graders who may read this book in school see things that are just as violent and/or sexual (or more so) than Speak on television. They hear worse language on the bus, in the hallway, and at home. Why are parents, administrators, and others getting so worked up over children reading a book about sexual assault and bullying? They are trying to shelter their children from the world that they live in, in the hopes of protecting them from society and things that are going on. However, sheltering your children from these subjects often does more harm thanlaurie good.

Unfortunately, children are experiencing terrible things at young ages. This isn’t new. It has always happened. It’s just that young adult authors, like Laurie Halse Anderson, are starting to write about these difficult subjects from the point of view of the children experiencing them. And as a teacher, I realize that children (and adults) need these books. You would be amazed to know how many children are bullied, are depressed, or have been sexually assaulted. Even if they haven’t they need to know these things exist. They need to know that if it does happen to them that they have to speak up about it. They need to know that if they have a friend, a peer, or a family member that has had this happen to them that they should remain supportive and encourage them to get help.

If your child is reading Speak and you are unsure if they should be reading it, please do yourself a favor and visit your local library or bookstore and pick up the book yourself. If you can, read it while your child is reading it. Parents and their children can have great discussions about it. The book itself might upset you from time to time— it is a very hard subject to read about— but please finish it. You will be glad that you did.

In my opinion, Speak is a masterpiece. It is beautifully and thoughtfully written from the point of view of a teen who has experienced terrible things. Speak gives hope to victims of sexual assault. If it were in fact “child pornography” it would not have the positive effect it does on so many.  It gives hope to those who feel alone and who feel like they have no one to turn to. As an adult who has had these experience in the past, it still gives hope to me.

Lastly, Laurie (if you ever happen to run across this post), thank you. Don’t let comments like this jerk’s stop you from writing your books. There are teenagers out there that need them. There are adults out there that can still relate to them. You are helping more people than you know. You have inspired countless teens to speak up. You have inspired many writers (both teens and adults) to write about the things that they have seen and experienced in their lives. Thank you so much.

Read Laurie’s response to Richard Swier’s attack against Speak here

 

If you’ve read Speak, I would love to know what you thought and how it effected you.