Published by Hachette Australia on July 4th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson
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Samantha McCoy has it all mapped out. First she's going to win the national debating championship, then she's going to move to New York and become a human rights lawyer.
But when Sam discovers that a rare disease is going to take away her memory, the future she'd planned so perfectly is derailed before its started.
Realising that her life won't wait to be lived, Sam sets out on a summer of firsts.
The first party.
The first rebellion.
The first friendship.
The last love.
The Memory Book reduced me to a puddle of tears and I spent an entire night crying about it. Which is what makes this book perfect for me because I cannot resist a cryworthy contemporary story.
Sammie has an incurable neurological disease that is slowly causing her to lose her memory and will eventually claim her life. As a result, she’s keeping a journal for her future self so that even when she forgets, her Memory Book acts as a reminder. The Memory Book itself is this journal. It’s like an encyclopedia that Sammie has written to herself. It’s not your traditional novel with clear chapters. The format of the book is irregular and there are chapters with just facts. As Sammie writes to Future Sam, we get to see her story and how she’s progressing through life with her disability. It’s sad and heartbreaking, but also full of warm and happy moments too. In fact, the majority of the book is quite hopeful and full of wonderful family, friendship and romantic moments. It was really only the last 50 or so pages that really got to me and made me start bawling.
Optimism yields responsibility. I’m not delusional: I know I’m sick. But I’m not going to set myself up for failure.
My favourite aspect of this book was definitely Sammie’s character. I loved her and could relate to her so much. She’s ambitious and driven and refuses to let her condition get in the way of her dreams. She’s a fierce competitor and debater and has dreamt of winning the National Debate Tournament and going on to becoming a human rights lawyer for years and years. But her memory loss makes it hard for her to cope with her daily life, let alone memorise all the facts that she needs to win the tournament. As she struggles through ways of coping with her disability, we see different sides of Sammie and I loved each and every single side of her. Her humour and her social awkwardness was fantastic and I definitely connected with it. She’s a total nerd and reads books at parties (when she actually goes to parties). I loved her so, so much and couldn’t have asked for a better main character.
The side characters were also great but I wasn’t as enamoured by them as I was by Sammie. I absolutely loved Sammie’s family and how supportive they were of her, but I didn’t really understand the appeal of some of Sammie’s friends. Maddie is Sammie’s best friend and debate partner but I found her to be a little bit selfish and I didn’t really understand her reactions. I also wasn’t the biggest fan of the love interest, Stuart. I liked him and I also liked that he was there to support Sammie instead of running away at the first sign of trouble. But I never really warmed to him or enjoyed their romance. And knowing what I know after finishing the book, I guess I can understand why I felt this way. My favourite of all the side characters was probably Cooper, Sammie’s neighbour. He used to be Sammie’s best friend when they were younger but have mostly been casual acquaintances since then. He makes a sudden reappearance in Sammie’s life after finding out about her illness and helps her through her daily struggles by offering her advice (or underhanded methods) on how she can overcome her barriers and looking after her when she needs greater help later on. I loved their friendship and the part that Cooper played in her life and in the story.
Despite not connecting some of the side characters, I thought the writing, plot and main character of The Memory Book was brilliant and deserves full marks. It’s emotional and heartbreaking but also adorable and hopeful. It’s a story that will stick with me for a long time to come.
Rating: 5 out of 5
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