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The Impossible Knife of Memory

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  25,664 ratings  ·  3,622 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, 391 pages
Published January 7th 2014 by Viking Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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 ·  25,664 ratings  ·  3,622 reviews

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Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies
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 description of bip
Aug 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 la
Kat (Lost in Neverland)

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
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.
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.
2.5 stars

Objectively, well written, but there is nothing new here. A cutesy romance mixed with family drama. Even though some of the drama is PTSD-related, still the feeling of same old, same old remains.
Jan 28, 2014 rated it it was ok
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 subject of Pos
Feb 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Edit 2/28/19 - Even better the third time.


OOPS I got home from a house party at 4 AM new years after enduring a stressful travel day and a 6 hour plane ride from hell and I should've been asleep by 8 but instead I binge read this until 1 AM.

^ yes, The Impossible Knife of Memory is that freaking good

If it's even possible I think this was better the second time around. I love Laurie Halse Anderson. Speak is another one of my favorite novels. Her writing style is unique & poetic and omg she has such a fantastic wit. Mommm. I wan
Aug 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Laurie Halse Anderson. Do I really need to say 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 werewolf even if the moon isn’t full” and
Aug 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
‘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 recently moved in
Deborah Ideiosepius
This was a pleasant enough Young Adult novel dealing with themes of PTSD and joining a new school when your upbringing has been very different from your peers.

Hayley has spent most of her childhood being home schooled by her father as he drove trucks around the USA. Her father is a returning veteran who has refused assistance in dealing with his PTSD and his substance abuse problems. Heyley loves him and is protective of him, but her life has been pretty hard as a consequence of his
Jan 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-of-2014
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
C.G. Drews
Jan 30, 2014 rated it really liked it

All I'm going to say is this: This book is amazing. Feels wrenching. Sniffle inducing. Everyone should read it and cry.

Okay, goodbye.

I'm just kidding. Do you really think I wouldn't give you reasons? Ha! I love reasons. And I'm allowed to be totally logical in this review (despite the fact that it's an emotional roller-coaster) because the dog's name was Spock.

Characters? I confess to not liking the narrator, Hayley, at the beginning. Not only does she have a name more common than Sue (poor
Susane Colasanti
Oct 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Another phenomenal masterpiece by Laurie Halse Anderson. Breathtaking, moving, and gripping.
Michelle Wrona
"A quick lesson.
There are two kinds of people in this world:
1. zombies
2. freaks
Only two. Anyone who tells you different is lying. That
person is a lying zombie. Do not listen to zombies. Run for
your freaking life."

Need a little flavour in your life? Then pick this beauty up. It's not your average contemporary read, it's something darker with a gorgeous backstory. It deals with a variety of subjects, including PTSD. You will end up crying and not understanding what the freak is going on with you and your feelings.

"A quick lesson.
There are two kinds of people in this world:
1. zombies
2. freaks
Only two. Anyone who tells you different is lying. That
person is a lying zombie. Do not listen to zombies. Run for
your freaking life."

Need a little flavour in your life? Then pick this beauty up. It's not your average contemporary read, it's something darker with a gorgeous backstory. It deals with a variety of subjects, including PTSD. You will end up crying and not understanding what the freak is going on with you and your feelings.

Words can't even explain my love for this book. It was so powerful and gorgeous and addicting, and one hell of a roller coaster ride. You'll end up crying and not knowing what to do with yourself. Laurie Halse Anderson is my favourite author, no doubt about it. The way she portrays her protagonist's voice is beautiful.

"My earbuds were in, but I wasn't playing music. I needed to hear the world
but didn't want the world to know I was listening."

This is about Hayley Kincain. She's a teenager who lives with her single depressed father, Andy, who is going through a tough time in his life. He has PTSD, and is beginning to show signs that he is too immature for his age. He's Hayley's father, and he's supposed to be taking care of Hayley, instead of her taking care of him, right? They used to be traveling around the US in a truck, but now they're back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend a real high school. Hayley meets Finn, a guy who obviously likes her but is hiding some secrets of his own. Will Andy end up changing for the good?

From the start, I was in love with this book. The plot was fast-paced, and because of the issues incorporated, everything ended up being 100% awesome. Anderson just had a masterpiece idea, and did it.

From page 1, I loved Hayley. She and Melinda are Laurie's best characters yet, and Hayley's voice really stood out to me. At first, she didn't know what to do with herself and her life.

As her relationship with Finn grew, her personality grew, too. Her badassness went to a whole other level and she really learned more about herself and what she deserves. Her love and caring for Andy was beautiful, and right.

Although Andy overreacted at times and wasn't who he was supposed to be, I loved him. He didn't take the role of responsibility very well, but by the end, after the incident, he became a whole other person. He became stronger, and that was all because of his outstanding daughter who took a voice.

I saved Finn for last because well, I loved him.

HE WAS MY TEENAGE HEARTTHROB! Just look at this quote which he spoke to Hayley: (spoken in a texting conversation between him and Hayley after their date)

"nxt to you
i didnt notice any stars

Oh gosh. *fans myself* It's so hot in here! Or is it just me?

The romance was just astonishing and it had a point. Some books just have romance for no reason, but the relationship between Hayley and Finn made sense and it made me squeal. I felt steam all the time and a gorgeous connection between them.

I never saw that ending coming. It surprised me, but it was amazing and made the book 10x better.

This book had everything that you're looking for in a perfect YA novel: romance, drama, mystery, feels, squeals, and issues. This gives you a variety of flavours, not only one in life.

Beautiful quotes:

"She dumped you," I said.
"Not yet." He put a box of food and soda at the edge of a plaid blanket.
"Maybe she had to pee," I said. "What's her name again?"
"Her name is Hayley." He straightened up and handed me the cup of marigolds. "Hello, Miss Blue." (p. 93)

"Then I'd see Finn in the hall, or I'd catch a glance of his profile out of the corner of my eye while we were driving to school, and he would turn to me and smile.
And I didn't want to be a hermit anymore." (p. 151)

"Until then we're going to keep making memories like this, moments when
we're the only two people in the whole world. And when we get scared or lonely
or confused, we'll pull out these memories and wrap them around us and they'll make us feel safe." He kissed me again. "And strong." (p. 391)
Alyssa | 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 w
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 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 i
Dec 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars.

"The old men take us there. A tiny hand, stained with blood and dust, pokes out of the rubble. The old men shout at us.
'What are they saying?' I ask.
'We got the wrong house,' the interpreter says.
We blew up a house filled with children and mothers and toothless grandmothers. The insurgent house sits empty, a stone's throw away.
The ancient men yell at me shake their fists.
I understand every word they say."

With every single Laurie Halse Anderson book that I'v
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 school ...more
Tamora Pierce
May 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary, ya-yr
A tense story about a father and daughter who are both trying to deal with post traumatic stress disorder, the father from his military service, and the daughter from living with a man who struggles with demons, liquor, unstable partners, and his own inability to hold down a job and home with his child. Reading this book, I felt like I was living on the edge of a cliff, and I was terrified that no one would be able to work out a way to live--you will feel the same way.
Gillian Berry

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 say my taste at age twelve was
Megan Heisler
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson was not your typical teenage drama. Its combination of teenage romance and trauma was done just right that neither aspect was done so over-the-top that it became cheesy or depressing. I was invested in these characters and how their lives were going to play out, so much so, that I read over 150 pages in a 24 hour period. The end was not disappointing and the suspense surrounding Hayley's father's life hanging in the balance and her insurmou ...more
Apr 20, 2018 rated it liked it
The impossible knife of memory 3⭐
Beautifully haunting.
*Genre* Young-Adult Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
*Rating* 4.0

*My Thoughts*

Laurie Halse Anderson is a writer who I can always count on to make me think, make me hurt, make me feel things I don't want to, and make smile like a goof ball with her patented sarcasm and humorous characters. The Impossible Knife of Memory hits a bit close to home for me as I am also a veteran who experiences very strange side effects from PTSD. Yes, folks, women do suffer from PTSD just
Nov 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'd give this book 3.5 stars. Though it was great, sometimes the characters just pissed me off. I pretty much always love Laurie Halse Anderson's writing, though.
Sara (A Gingerly Review)
This book shattered me.

Full review can be found here:

This book came heavily recommended. I loved the cover yet was hesitant to start. Why? This was one hella serious and heavy story. This is not a story to start thinking it will be a light and quick read.

Short recap: Hayley has not had an easy life. For years she has had to live on the road with her father, Andy. All she knows is that she has to take care of him no matter what as he is struggling with PTSD and d
Jan 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: finished-in-2014, ya
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 de
Paula Weston
Dec 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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, frightenin
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Ask box is open, my friends! What do you want to know?

UPDATE! SHOUT, my memoir in verse, is out, has received 9 starred reviews, and was longlisted for the National Book Award!

I recently answered all kinds of great questions over at Reddit. Check it out for loads about my writing process and my books:
Ask box is open, my friends! What do you want to know?

UPDATE! SHOUT, my memoir in verse, is out, has received 9 starred reviews, and was longlisted for the National Book Award!

I recently answered all kinds of great questions over at Reddit. Check it out for loads about my writing process and my books:

For bio stuff: Laurie Halse Anderson is a New York Times bestselling author whose writing spans young readers, teens, and adults. Combined, her books have sold more than 8 million copies. Her new book, SHOUT, a memoir-in-verse about surviving sexual assault at the age of thirteen and a manifesta for the #MeToo era, has received widespread critical acclaim and appeared on the New York Times bestseller list for seven consecutive weeks.

Laurie has been nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award three times. Two of her books, Speak and Chains, were National Book Award finalists, and Chains was short-listed for the prestigious Carnegie medal. Laurie was selected by the American Library Association for the 2009 Margaret A. Edwards Award and has been honored for her battles for intellectual freedom by the National Coalition Against Censorship and the National Council of Teachers of English.

In addition to combating censorship, Laurie regularly speaks about the need for diversity in publishing and is a member of RAINN’s National Leadership Council. She lives in Philadelphia, where she enjoys cheesesteaks while she writes. Find out more about Laurie by following her on Twitter at @halseanderson, Instagram at halseanderson, and Facebook at lauriehalseanderson, or by visiting her website,
“I needed to hear the world but didn't want the world to know I was listening.” 105 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.” 73 likes
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