The Impossible Knife of Memory
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The Impossible Knife of Memory

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  6,746 ratings  ·  1,340 reviews
For the past five years, Hayley Kincain 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...more
Hardcover & E-book, 391 pages
Published January 7th 2014 by Viking Juvenile (first published January 2nd 2014)
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Khanh (Kittens, Rainbows, and Sunshine)
This is not a bad book by any means, but it left me quite emotionless despite the gravity of the situation that it portrayed. I think a lot of people will enjoy this book; clearly from the high ratings of this book, a lot of people have. It just didn't work for me.

I feel like this book sanitizes PTSD into a very clean depiction. For me, this book is not dark. It did not feel depressing. It was not emotionally wracking. This book portrayed PTSD through a very clean, filtered lens, a textbook desc...more
As someone who wrote an entire research paper on the importance of YA fiction and the genius of Laurie Halse Anderson, I own up to my bias. The Impossible Knife of Memory captures so much of what I love about young-adult contemporary and realistic fiction. It possesses a witty and cynical narrator, it delves into a real and painful issue, and it offers a nuanced yet meaningful message of hope.

Hayley Kincaid divides the human race into two types of people: the freaks and the zombies. Her lack of...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Can I just say that Laurie Halse Anderson is the best? Actually, don’t answer that, because I don’t care what you think, because she just is the best and I refuse to argue that point. The Impossible Knife of Memory is my third Laurie Halse Anderson read and also my favorite. For those who are curious, the other two were Speak and Catalyst. The Impossible Knife of Memory is dark, hilarious, oh so quotable, and has a truly amazing ship.

Read the full review at A Reader of Fictions.
On April 20, 1999, I was a senior in high school. My friends and I had returned from lunch and I was sitting in Chemistry class. My teacher got a phone call and said there'd been a shooting in Colorado and she was going to turn on the news on the TV. We were in mountain time zone so we watched live from our classroom as kids jumped out of the windows of their classrooms two states away in Columbine. The next day we came to school we were all a little spooked. At about 10 am I was in Sra. Owens'...more
See more reviews at YA Midnight Reads

At first, I thought I was a black sheep. Most of my friends loved this book, cried over it, still in a book hangover just thinking of this novel. But a few days upon finishing The Impossible Knife of Memory, I took a quick peek at the ratings on Goodreads. I won't say that the ratings were distributed evenly all the way, but it seems that quite a number were just as disappointed as I was.

The Impossible Knife of Memory started off really well. Fantastically, e...more
Kat (Le Pauvre Cœur)

What even was that cheesy ending, oh my god.

Haley believes there are only two kinds of people in the world: freaks and zombies. Everyone is a freak until they hit high school, where the zombification process sets in.

Haley lives with her father, a war veteran with severe PTSD, and struggles with the responsibility of having to practically care for him whenever he drinks too much or wakes up in the middle of the night screaming.
She disregards school and the zombies within, believing that it's a...more
‘The Impossible Knife of Memory’ is the new young adult novel from Laurie Halse Anderson.

I finished reading this book the same week that Australian soldiers completed withdrawal from the Afghanistan Uruzgan province. It was an unsettling overlap in my reading – when majority news outlets were reporting positively on the withdrawal, but none were mentioning the road ahead for the returning soldiers. This is the crux of Anderson’s story, which follows eighteen-year-old Hayley Rose who has recentl...more
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

When Hayley’s dad Andy returned from fighting overseas five years ago, he was a changed man. He tried battling his PTSD by running – taking Hayley with him over-the-road and home schooling her. Now Andy and Hayley have moved back to their hometown in an attempt to give Hayley a sense of normalcy for her senior year of high school. But how can Hayley ever know what "normal” is when she is being raised by someone who can “turn into a wer...more
This is a poignant young adult story about a teenaged girl, Hayley, trying to cope with her increasingly despondent and volatile father, who is suffering from head injuries from an IED and post-traumatic stress disorder after multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hayley’s mother and grandmother have been dead for years and she and her father have recently returned to her childhood home after living a nomadic lifestyle while her father tried to outrun his demons. Hayley enrolls in Belmont High...more
Alyssa Hamilton (Swept Away By Books)
I am smacking myself for not reading any other books by Laurie Halse Anderson before this one. The Impossible Knife of Memory is an incredibly heavy story about a young girl who spends more time looking after her father who suffers from severe PTSD, than he spends looking after her. Despite the absolutely tough subject, Anderson throws in this underlying sense of hope that is so strong, it helps you push through the more emotional parts of the story.

And trust me, there are a lot. I was choked up...more

Originally posted at Writer of Wrongs

I read Speak somewhere around the age of twelve or thirteen. You could argue I was too young for it (you'd be wrong), but it left the kind of impression on me that never goes away. It was full of pain, full of confusion, and full of smarts. It spoke to me in a way that few books ever did, and since the day I finished it, I've considered Anderson to be one of the finest writers of voice and feels around.

It's been a decade or so since I first read Speak. To sa...more
Susane Colasanti
Another phenomenal masterpiece by Laurie Halse Anderson. Breathtaking, moving, and gripping.
Laurie Halse Anderson. Do I really need to say more?
The Airship Librarian
I've hit a bit of a rough patch with books. For the past month, many of the books I've read have been kind of okay, lame, or just confusing. At least two books this month I've been unsure of whether I liked them or didn't, because they had issues, but had beauty.

This is another book that I'm not sure if I liked, but know that I didn't hate. Like with all of Laurie Halse Anderson's books, The Impossible Knife of Memory explores a tricky subject that in some hands could be easily botched. The sub...more
The Impossible Knife of Memory is impeccably told through the narration of Haley, a protagonist whose voice has just a touch of cynicism in it, thrown in with a scoop of sarcasm and a whole big bucket of survivalist instincts. Haley's father, a war veteran suffering from severe PTSD, is hardly equipped to take care of her, let alone keep a job. Nevertheless, he insists that Haley have a "normal" life, ending their years on the road while Haley learns to navigate the zombied existence of a high s...more
I understand now why Laurie Halse Anderson is one of those writers readers never fail to keep track off. I read Speak several years ago and remember feeling how it stood stark naked amongst other books I had read before it. Anderson’s writing is poetic yet so daringly outspoken that you can’t help but stop and listen.

Anderson is famous (or infamous) for tackling varying degrees of heavy subjects. This may be her most ambitiously profound yet. It’s about Hayley Kincain. Daughter of Andy Kincain....more
Paula Weston
I inhaled this book. It's gritty, relevant, heartbreaking and life-affirming.

This is a story of broken people and broken families - and yet is full of love, compassion and hope, but without a whiff of sentimentality.

I appreciated that while Hayley is a strong, smart girl, she's still very much a teenager and she reacts and behaves in ways that feel true to her experiences and age.

The fractured relationship with her father is wrenching and, at times, frightening. It's another glimpse of the legac...more
Tara King
Dec 03, 2013 Tara King rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Tara by: English teacher
Having read Speak, I hold author Laurie Halse Anderson to the highest of expectations.

She definitely didn’t disappoint.

My wonderful English teacher managed to get ahold of an unedited, unreleased version her newest book, The Impossible Knife of Memory, several months ahead of widespread availability (it will be released for sale sometime in January 2014). The Goodreads’ summary of this book doesn’t do it justice, in my humble opinion. To give a quick (and hopefully unlikely to get me sued) summa...more
Ruth Turner
I'm fence sitting with this one.

I thought it was going to be a tissue box story, but it failed to bring so much as a tear to my eye.

It's a well written, easy read, but I found I had no sympathy, or empathy, for any of the characters.

Some of the conversations between Finn and Hayley made my head hurt! Do young adults really talk like this? Really?

“The warped perception of time is a hallmark of trauma,” he said. “I’ve counseled a lot of superheroes. They all struggle with it.”
“Oh, really?” My han...more
Rated YA-5.

If you've never read a Laurie Halse Anderson book before (if that's possible), this is as good as any at showing you what LHA does best when she writes YA books. She tackles social ills (in this case, post-traumatic stress disorder), places it in a familiar setting (in this case, high school), and still plays narrative aces (in this case, a great read).

Hayley Rose plays a stranger in a strange land at school and a pilgrim in an all-too-familiar land at home. Her dad, a decorated vete...more

This review is also on my blog

The Impossible Knife of Memory is the second book I’ve read by Laurie Halse Anderson - the first being Speak - and I’m not entirely sure why I’m not read any of her other books yet. Both were such beautifully written, gritty, realistic and compelling reads. I particularly enjoyed her latest book and can state with full confidence that it’s good reviews are more than deserved.

From the moment I picked this book up, I was unable to put it down. I read it in only a few...more
Richie Partington
Richie's Picks: THE IMPOSSIBLE KNIFE OF MEMORY by Laurie Halse Anderson, Viking, January 2014, 304p., ISBN: 978-0-670-01209-1

"She laid down the receiver beside the phone and walked out of the room. The voice went on talking. She came back into the room with a cleaver in her hand. With the cleaver she sliced through the connection, where the wires came out from the wall. The voice ceased."
-- Abigail Tillerman's reaction when the Army calls and tells her about her son Bullet, who was fighting in...more
Rachel Patrick
This review (and others) can be seen in all its glorious proper formatting on my blog Beauty and the Bookshelf.

The Impossible Knife of Memory will stab you like a knife--in a good way, of course. And to think, I almost didn't read it (at least not at this time). Which is why I am telling you, yes you, to read this book (and to the people who told me to read it, thank you).

I can't think of a complaint for this book. I'm trying to think, trying to find something, and I'm coming up blank. The story...more
Ella Holst

Out there on the edge, the spinning of the Earth had slowed to give us the time we needed to start finding each other again. - Laurie Halse Anderson, The Impossible Knife of Memory

Hayley Rose Kincain is the daughter of war veteran Andrew Kincain. Looking for a more stable life for him and his daughter, they move into Hayley’s deceased grandmother’s house. Hayley starts her senior year at the town high school. She is welcomed by a childhood friend Gracie, Gracie’s gossip boyfriend Topher and Finn...more
I was expecting to love The Impossible Knife of Memory, but I didn't. I didn't hate it either, it just kindof floated in there for me.

It might be that I'm reading a couple other books that deal with a lot of similar issues right now - at least in regard to child-rearing. For instance, Liz and I are reading The Glass Castle right now. There's a lot of overlap, and if those two books go head-to-head, The Glass Castle is coming out on top... The comparisons that I was naturally making in my own min...more
Jen (The Starry-Eyed Revue)
An ARC of this title was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This review can also be found at The Starry-Eyed Revue.

I'm going to be honest: I've kept my distance from Laurie Halse Anderson books because they deal with such controversial subjects. They're real and gritty and genuine. Above all, they evoke all of those emotions that I would usually prefer to keep bottled up. But I think I've read more "issues" books in the last year or two than in my whole life -- except in...more
Laurie Halse Anderson is an amazing YA writer. She tackles tough subjects head on, flinging hardships, trials and snares at her characters. She's relentless and wry and relevant and revered.

The cover of her latest books is mesmerising (love it!), the title alluring and the premise promises some LHA conflict and heartbreak. I love the way Anderson writes -- her sentences have a certain cadence, her humour often sneaky, her protagonists not afraid to be unlikeable. I also love how her books are al...more
Farah Jay
Laurie Halse Anderson has done it again. This woman just never fails to leave me speechless after finishing a book that she has written. Wintergirls being one of my favorite books I have read, The Impossible Knife of Memory is also making it's way to my favorites list. It was interesting and different, for me at least, to see the main protagonist actually be a typical teenager. Other than this book, I have only read Speak and Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, both in which the characters voi...more
I have already written a couple or reviews for this, as it is an ARC, but I will leave a short one here as well. I was so happy to see this come in to the independent bookstore I work at. I am a fan of Anderson ever since her book, Speak (one of my all time favorites). In this book however, Anderson revisits the damaged teen motif that she is so freakishly good at writing, but with a little different story. Hayley is your typical teenager, except she has a father who has been irreparably damaged...more
Kim Trusty
You know what I love about Anderson? I love the way that she handles really big topics in a matter-of-fact way. Her books are not the equivalent of an ABC After School Special - she trades in nuance and a realistic, believable, yet poetic kind of subtlety. Anderson is telling an important story here - I can only imagine that there are many teens out there who can really relate to Hayley, whose father is a veteran suffering from PTSD (which seems a paltry way to describe the psychological torment...more
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Laurie's new YA novel, THE IMPOSSIBLE KNIFE OF MEMORY, comes out in January!

(She is working on ASHES this very second.)

Back to our regularly scheduled biography...

Laurie Halse Anderson is the New York Times-bestselling author who writes for kids of all ages. Known for tackling tough subjects with humor and sensitivity, her work has earned numerous ALA and state awards. Two of her books, Spe...more
More about Laurie Halse Anderson...
Speak Wintergirls Fever 1793 Twisted Chains (Seeds of America, #1)

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“I needed to hear the world but didn't want the world to know I was listening.” 41 likes
“I'd treat myself to a reading marathon all weekend. All the ice cream I could eat, all the pages I could read. Heaven.” 29 likes
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