Flora Banks won’t remember you if she met you after the age of ten. She was ten years old when she had the brain operation that left her with no short-term memory. Her only memories are from before she was ten. If she knew you before then, it might take her a minute to recognize you, and she’ll be surprised that you’ve aged. She’ll be surprised when she looks at her own reflection and sees that she is not ten years old but that she is a 17-, almost 18-year-old young woman. If you’re a post-brain operation acquaintance and you haven’t seen Flora for a day, a few hours, or sometimes even thirty minutes, you’ll need to reintroduce yourself to her. Because she will have forgotten you. Because Flora forgets everything. Flora has anterograde amnesia, and on her arms are notes and reminders and names. A tattoo of her name marks her hand with the words Be Brave directly underneath. She has tons of post-it notes and a notebook that tells her story so that when she gets confused, she won’t panic. She’ll just read her notebook telling her who she is and why she is the way she is, and Flora will remember this… for a little while, before she has to start all over again. Flora has a best friend, Paige, whom she has known since she was four years old and who loves her and looks after her whenever her parents cannot. But Flora kissed Paige’s boyfriend Drake, and the notes remind her that Paige is not her friend anymore. But Flora doesn’t need notes to remind her that she and Drake have kissed… because for the first time since her surgery, Flora remembers something. This one thing. This one moment. This is the one memory of Flora Banks.
What follows as Flora begins quite the journey in her quest to find the boy who made her remember something is… well, for a mother, scary. For a friend, shocking. But for Jacob? Overjoying and anticipated. There is so much more to this story than the synopsis hints at. Things that took me by complete surprise. And yet, this book won’t be for everybody; and I wish I could change that. I hope you’ll give it a chance and be patient with Flora. Because Flora will repeat herself. A lot. For me, the repetitiveness of certain things only put me more into the mind of the character. Flora will forget things that the reader remembers. And she might not share all the details from one moment to the next because she has already forgotten them. But Flora is amazing. She is brilliant and she is brave. And she is worth your time to get to know her.
This is one of the books. The kind of book that when fellow readers ask for recommendations, for a book that is unique, for a book that will stay with them forever, for a book that will make them feel every emotion… The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr will be at the top of the list that I give them. I know there will be readers who will lose patience with Flora. I know there will be readers who might not “get it,” but it won’t stop me from recommending it for the sole purpose of getting it into the hands of the readers who will. I’m so in love with Flora and Jacob, and I am so happy this author broke my heart and glued it back together. Mostly, I’m just elated to have this book in my life and to have shared it with my daughter. Flora wouldn’t remember us, but we’ll never forget her.
This is another book that Mom and I share the same feelings on. She pretty much hit the nail on the head with both our thoughts on this one, and I don't want to be repetitive; so I'd like to talk a bit about my experience reading it.
Sometimes you read a particular book, and you're filled with an overwhelming sense of awe and admiration and something else you aren't quite able to put into the right words, along with the feeling that you've just experienced something remarkable and important. I've been lucky to find several books that have evoked these kinds of feelings in me, the feelings of something nameless but wonderful. But so far, I had never found one quite this powerful. But then I found The One Memory of Flora Banks. Or rather, it found me and my mom. When it arrived in the mail, I sensed something special in it. When I opened it up for the first time, turned to part one, and began to read, I felt it. Right away. Flora is the kind of character that inserts herself directly into your heart within the span of a few minutes, and her story is the kind that makes you feel and the kind that makes you think. And I haven't been able to stop thinking since I turned the very last page and lay the book down. The characters inside these pages pulled me in with them, and as I read I became a part of this story. Flora has quickly become one of my favorite characters, as have Jacob and Toby and Agi. I'm beyond impressed that this is the author's young adult debut; it was captivating and inspiring and strong, and I felt so connected to it. I want to relive it again and again and feel those indescribable feelings that only a very special book can bring about. The One Memory of Flora Banks was a truly unique and beautiful story, and I'm so grateful to have read it.
"Live your life. Flora, be brave."
Thank you to the publisher for providing us with a copy of this book in exchange for our honest reviews. The two quotes used in this review are taken from an uncorrected galley and are subject to change.