The One Memory of Flora Banks – Emily Barr

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Take care of all your memories. For you cannot relive them – Bob Dylan

What would you do if every 60 minutes or so, your memory erased itself and all you could remember were snatches of your earliest childhood? Through the eyes of Emily Barr’s Flora Banks, you can live that experience, where the same things happen over and over again, and you rely on those around you to keep you moving a little bit forward instead of forever going back to the beginning.

The titular One Memory of Flora is that she kisses Drake. On a beach. You’ll read this a lot. Drake is her best friend Paige’s ex boyfriend, who is leaving town to study in Svalbard. When Paige learns about the kiss, she cuts off her friendship with Flora. But the timing is terrible as Flora’s parents have to leave town to visit Flora’s older brother who is gravely ill in Paris, thinking that Paige will look after Flora. Flora finds herself having to look after herself, as Paige won’t forgive her. Keeping up the pretence that she and Paige are having a good time together, Flora finds ways of reminding herself who she is and what she needs to do to get through the week without her parents, to keep herself safe and to remember to take her medicine, all the time clinging to her One Memory. She kissed Drake. On a beach.

Ever resourceful, Flora decides to go to Svalbard to find Drake, and hopefully restore her memory. Reading about her journey was like watching through my fingers, expecting Flora to have mishap after mishap. The awkwardness and uncomfortableness of Flora in unfamiliar territory, and the quiet safety net put up by those who meet her and immediately see her vulnerability is well portrayed, the often unwritten but tangible part of the tale.

This is an incredible love story. But not the one that you expect from the first couple of chapters. I felt the frustration of Flora followed by the fear and confusion that comes when her friable memories disintegrate once again. You find yourself rooting for Flora and hoping that from the One Memory, more memories follow on.

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