Emily Barr: The One Memory of Flora Banks


How do you know who to trust when you can’t even trust yourself . . . ?

I look at my hands. One of them says FLORA BE BRAVE

Flora has anterograde amnesia. She can’t remember anything day-to-day: the joke her friend made, the instructions her parents gave her, how old she is.

Then she kisses someone she shouldn’t – and the next say she remembers it.

It’s the first time she’s remembered anything since she was ten.

But the boy is gone – she thinks he’s moved to the Arctic.

Will following him be the key to unlocking her memory? Who can she trust?

The One Memory of Flora Banks is a young adult, contemporary novel that focuses on our main protagonist Flora Banks, and how her life is constantly filled with confusion. Flora suffers from anterograde amnesia; she cannot generate new memories, forgetting everything that she knows within a matter of hours. Her arms are covered in words and phrases that she has written in pen in an attempt to remember important information. However, having kissed Drake, she can remember that one memory without fail. In a desperate attempt to unlock her memories, Flora goes on an adventure to find Drake and, from that moment, her life is changed forever.

Mental health/illness is a topic that I frequently see popping up all over the book community, especially on Twitter. A lot of my generation (the millennials), and I for one, believe that this is a topic that needs more coverage, especially within the young adult community. And I wholeheartedly agree. Until I started blogging, any form of mental illness that I had encountered had been from adult novels; whether that be an adult suffering, or an adult’s perspective of a child. TOMFB is told from the first person perspective of Flora Banks and gives a first hand account of how someone suffering from anterograde amnesia would experience their day to day life, and how their lives can be greatly affected. With this in mind, we frequently see scenes where Flora is questioning what she reads, or hears, where she repeats actions that she had only just done. Flora Banks life is a continuous form of repetition and this is reflected in the writing.

Flora Banks, though being seventeen-years-old, acts like someone much younger due to having lost the ability to form new memories from around ten-years-old. The language of the novel reflects this; it is child-like in her dialogue and in how she describes events and the setting around her. However, you can also see through this to the more mature side of Flora Banks as she attempts to continue to remember what is happening around her on her journey. I found Flora Banks to be an endearing character and the way that she is portrayed really helped me to understand what she is going through. I also found that the way that other characters interacted with her, and some of their dialogue truly hit the nail on the head in outlining the very nature of her illness and how normal Flora is underneath everything. Just like any other teenager, Flora just wants to experience life. Her interactions with other characters were reminiscent of my childhood days and were very nostalgic which I felt really helped me to connect with her as opposed to the more mature content experienced in adult fiction.

Emily Barr brings within this novel, a truly insightful work of fiction that brings together an enjoyable journey with a simple yet effective understanding of this illness. Though I am by no means old, Flora’s journey really made me feel quite young and without a care in the world. She is the epitome of what every teenager should be, regardless of her setbacks, and I believe her to be a character that would fit perfectly into a role model position in showing that, no matter your differences or what conditions may be holding you back, at heart we are all the same and we are all normal – just differently.

The One Memory of Flora Banks is the novel you have been looking for but didn’t realise. It houses a room full of secrets you didn’t know were coming and makes you question everything that you read as you re-read the events over and over from Flora’s fresh perspective each time her memory fails her. It subtly keeps you on your toes throughout as you become hooked by Flora’s innocence and no holds barred approach to what awaits her.


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