June 27, 2017

“Life is not just a series of triumphs."


If you're reading this, you're probably wondering who you are...
You are me, Samantha Agatha McCoy, in the not-so-distant future. I'm writing this for you. 
They say my memory will never be the same, that I'll start forgetting things. 
At first just a little, and then a lot. So I'm writing to remember.

And so, The Memory Book by Lara Avery begins. Sammie has always had a plan for her future: win the National Debate Tournament, graduate valedictorian, study at NYU and become a lawyer. She's on track to complete several items on her list... and then she receives devastating news during her senior year of high school. Sammie is diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder that will soon steal her memories and her health. She creates the Memory Book: a document with notes to her future self so she can remember the details of her life.

Although it was released in July 2016, I didn't really hear anything about it until the end of last year. It was included in several "Best of" lists on blogs I follow, and then just so happened to go on sale for Kindle around the same time. It felt like kismet, and so I clicked the "Buy now with 1-click" button without a second thought. 

When I was pondering what to read for April's Picky Pledge Reading Challenge prompt - "A Book You Bought Because It Was on Sale" - this was one of the first things that came to mind. I didn't buy it solely because it was on sale, but it was a big part of the reason I purchased it so soon after hearing about it. This category is probably my biggest book buying weaknesses: I can't resist a book that intrigues me if it's a great price. 

However, I can't completely bash my bad habit because it paid off with The Memory Book! I have a feeling I'll be re-reading this one in the future. Within the first few chapters, I was hooked. I loved Sammie's voice because it felt so authentic. I could imagine her - this girl who knows herself inside and out until she learns something life-changing about her body. Early on in the book, Sammie writes:
Then your mom forced you to join a club, and debate team was the first table at the club fair. (I wish it were more epic than that.) Anyway, everything changed. The brain you used to employ memorizing species of aliens you used instead to memorize human thought, events, ways of thinking that connected your tiny house tucked in the mountains to a huge timeline, one just as full of injustice and triumph and greed as the stories you craved, but one that was real.
My heart broke for her from the moment I learned about her diagnosis, and the ache grew with every page as she became a new version of herself. Although many of the physical changes were debilitating, I mourned the fact that she was going to lose her memory - the strength that had come to define her in many ways. Sammie is a unique character. In fact, you might even say she's weird. She doesn't quite fit in with most people, but I still loved her. The attachment grew with each new detail in her Memory Book because you could see how hard she was fighting to maintain her sense of self and her independence. She's not ready to give up on her dreams.

As I was reading, I kept forgetting just how serious her condition was because she had such a great sense of humor. She's awkward and nerdy and intense and focused - and even though I should have seen the ending coming, it still caught me by surprise. As I wrote on Goodreads when I finished - 4.5 stars, but I'm rounding up because EMOTIONS. Yeah, I had a lot of them. A lot. It didn't help that I finished it in bed at 1 a.m.

But I didn't just love Sammie. I loved her parents, her siblings, her longtime crush, her debate team partner, and her neighbor and childhood best friend. They each play a significant part in her life, and I appreciated the honesty with which Sammie wrote about them. You get immersed in her world - and you truly grasp everything she's losing and everyone whose lives will never be the same without her. The notes from her parents and siblings near the end of the book made me BAWL. MY. EYES. OUT. I'd share a quote from it but looking one up made me start to cry again so NOPE. I can't even go there right now.

I selfishly wish there hadn't been a love triangle, solely because I wanted her to be with the right person for as much time as possible. There were a few aspects of it I didn't like, but I can't talk about them without spoiling things. But I will say that once it was all sorted out, the romance was so unexpectedly sweet. Plus, it was one of my favorite tropes so that earned bonus points! I look forward to re-reading this one for many reasons, but this specific relationship is definitely one of the biggest. 

The Memory Book caught me by surprise. I wasn't expecting to love it as much as I did or to be so emotionally invested in these characters. I've thought about this book several times since I finished it and have even flipped back to re-read a few of my favorite passages. And honestly, I don't do stuff like that very often. Sammie was an unforgettable character, and I was moved by her story. I highly recommend this book! 

Sometimes life is really terrible. Sometimes life gives you a weird disease. 
Sometimes life is really good, but never in a simple sort of way.
Release Date: July 2016 | Publisher: Hachette; Poppy
Pages: 368 pages | Source & Format: Bought; Kindle e-book 

This was my fourth read for The Picky Pledge Reading Challenge that Alexa and I are doing in 2017! It's the perfect motivation to read books from my TBR and adds an extra dose of accountability, too. In addition to reading and reviewing one challenge book per month, we're answering three questions about each one!

1. How long has this book been on your TBR? 
I bought in December 2016, so it's only been on my TBR for a few months.

2. Do you remember how much you paid for this book? 
I bought the Kindle edition for $2.99!

3. If you bought this book secondhand, will you keep it or replace it?
Although I didn't buy it secondhand, I only own a digital copy. But I want this book on my shelves and am trying to decide if I want the US hardcover or the UK paperback (which has an amazing cover). Maybe I'll get both!

1 comment:

  1. YES. This is exactly how I felt. I didn't love Sammie but I was a fan of everyone else. The book really started slooooowly hitting me as it went on and I was more invested in the other people (especially their notes - I sobbed too). I also COMPLETELY agree about the love triangle. YES. It was really sad to have it happen ~that way~ because she deserved more.

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