The Memory Book by Lara Avery – My Black Sheep Review (& Giveaway)

August 4, 2016 Giveaways (Ended), Reviews 14 ★★

The Memory Book by Lara Avery – My Black Sheep Review (& Giveaway)The Memory Book by Lara Avery
Published by Hachette on 7/5/16
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Death & Dying
Pages: 368
Source: BEA
My content rating: YA (Characters have sex, Themes of death and dying)
My rating:
2 Stars

They tell me that 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.

Sammie was always a girl with a plan: graduate at the top of her class and get out of her small town as soon as humanly possible. Nothing will stand in her way--not even a rare genetic disorder the doctors say will slowly start to steal her memories and then her health. What she needs is a new plan.

So the Memory Book is born: Sammie's notes to her future self, a document of moments great and small. It's where she'll record every perfect detail of her first date with longtime crush, Stuart--a brilliant young writer who is home for the summer. And where she'll admit how much she's missed her childhood best friend, Cooper, and even take some of the blame for the fight that ended their friendship.

Through a mix of heartfelt journal entries, mementos, and guest posts from friends and family, readers will fall in love with Sammie, a brave and remarkable girl who learns to live and love life fully, even though it's not the life she planned.


My Take copy3

As you can tell from the title of this post, I’m admitting right from the start that I’m the black sheep when it comes to this book. Most people seemed to love it. Me, not so much. I wanted to love it. I loved the concept and the unique format – I just didn’t actually enjoy reading it very much. Here’s why:

 What Fed My Addiction:

  • The concept. I’d never even heard of Niemann-Pick Type C before I read this book, so I found the topic fascinating (in a very sad way). In the book, Sammie is losing her memory and starts suffering from many other health issues from the disease, such as balance issues and seizures. The disease itself is rare but completely heartbreaking. It’s often compared to alzheimer’s because of the effects on memory, and the idea of slowly losing your memory (and knowing that the memory loss is going to happen) is incredibly sad.
  • The format. The book is actually Sammie’s journal to herself to help her remember her life and her experiences. Occasionally someone else writes in it too (which is almost even more interesting). The absolute best part of this format is that we get to see Sammie’s deterioration directly through some of the journal entries where she just isn’t able to think coherently anymore. Those entries were the most impactful of the whole book because the reader could directly see what was happening to Sammie instead of her just telling about it.

What Left Me Wanting More:

  • I felt … nothing (mostly). This was definitely my biggest issue with the book. For some reason, despite the incredibly sad circumstances of this book, I didn’t actually feel sad while reading it. I think most of this was due to my complete lack of connection with the main character. Sammie had a sort of strangely detached voice in her notes to herself. Since she didn’t want to fall prey to emotion, she talked about her situation relatively matter-of-factly. And then every once in awhile, she would just say that she was suddenly in tears over her illness – but it seemed to come out of nowhere and we were simply told she cried. I didn’t actually sense any of the emotion in her narration, so it was more like a piece of information to me. Oh, I guess Sammie must have been sad. After all, she was just crying. And, while I felt sorry for Sammie, I didn’t like her all that much, if I’m being honest. (And then I’d feel guilty for not liking her because the girl was dying for goodness sake!) Her refusal to give up on her dreams even when the odds were stacked against her was commendable in some ways, but it was also a bit tiring. I could understand why she didn’t want to face reality, why it was much easier to move on as usual and pretend nothing bad was happening to her, but once again, it just left me feeling a whole lot less moved by the whole situation. I don’t know – obviously most other people didn’t have this trouble with the book, but I just could not connect, and I ended up feeling let-down.
  • Love triangle. To make things worse there was a love triangle between Sammie and her longtime crush Stuart and her ex-friend Cooper. Stuart was almost too good to be true and Cooper was a romanticized, misunderstood boy who was high all the time. Um, just no. (Though I will say Cooper’s small part in Sammie’s journal is the one and only thing that brought tears to my eyes.) And there was cheating involved. Sigh.

Like I said, most people loved this book and felt like it was incredibly emotionally impactful (almost all of my blogger friends gave it five stars). I simply wasn’t feeling it, for some reason. I needed more emotional connection and less emotional explanation, but that’s just me. I’m still a fan of Avery – I really enjoyed A Million Miles Away, so I’ll definitely be checking out her future books. In the end I gave this one 2/5 stars.

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via BEA16 in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***

About the Author:

Lara-AveryHi! I’m Lara, and I like taking walks, being alone, and appetizers.

I’m the author of a few Young Adult books. My fiction and non-fiction has appeared in Bennington College’s anthology plain china: Best Undergraduate Writing of 2009, The Onion AV Club, ARTNews, and Women In Clothes (Blue Rider Press 2014).

After being born and raised as a giant basketball player in Topeka, Kansas, I ran away to study film, cultural studies, and creative writing at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. I now live in Minneapolis, where I am still a giant but without the basketball skills.

* * *

A personal note on my most recent work The Memory Book: though the characters are fictional, Niemann Pick Type C is real disease, affecting real families. Please take a minute to learn more about them.

Author Links:
 photo iconwebsite-32x32_zps1f477f69.png  photo icongoodreads32_zps60f83491.png  photo icontwitter-32x32_zpsae13e2b2.png
Like I said, this book wasn’t for me. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be for you. Follow the steps in the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win my paperback ARC copy of the book. (US Only. Sorry.)

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14 Responses to “The Memory Book by Lara Avery – My Black Sheep Review (& Giveaway)”

  1. Joy // Joyousreads

    Apathy is the worst kind of death for book lovers. Sigh. The disease is interesting – definitely new to me, but I don’t know if I can stomach yet another love triangle.

  2. Jen

    I agree with most of what you said. I like the concept, learning about the disease and how it progresses.

    I really wanted to connect to the characters and wanted more feels but really I only got a little emotional once.

  3. ShootingStarsMag

    HOW DARE YOU! haha I’m kidding, of course! I really loved this one but I can see why it wouldn’t work for everyone. I felt sad for Sammie, but I only really got emotional near the end of the book, and Cooper’s contribution to the notebook was probably the part I got teary-eyed at. I don’t normally like love triangles, but this one worked fairly well for me…mainly because I could see her with EITHER guy, and it’s not usually like that for me.

    ShootingStarsMag recently posted: Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal
  4. Cait @ Paper Fury

    Eeep, well I did love this book immensely…BUT! I agree the love-triangle was ugh. It just came out of nowhere for me and annoyed me that apparently Sammie couldn’t have boys who are friends?? Like why??? And I felt like both boys romanticised her illness, since neither of them were particularly interested in her before. 🙁 Which is sad.😭
    But I did connect to Sammie herself a lot, so yayyyy. The book really hit me emotionally. Eeep.😂 Sorry you were the black sheep for this one, but hey, not every book is for everyone, right?! NO SHAME!

  5. tonyalee

    oh no!Gah, I still want to read it though. BUMMER about the triangle and cheating.

  6. Alexa @ Words Off the Page

    It sounds like a great story, but it’s so sad that you didn’t enjoy it. I’ve read a couple more reviews on this and they seemed to love it. I do think that the really pragmatic way the writing is could totally turn people off, though I think I might enjoy it a lot. I’ll have to see when I read the book. Great review!

    Alexa @ Words Off the Page recently posted: THAT ENDING | A Gathering of Shadows Review
  7. Anita Yancey

    Yes, I do like books with unique formatting. This book sounds like one I would love to read.

  8. Jen

    Not being able to connect with the character can affect my ability to connect with a book also. And oh my goodness, I’d feel guilty for not liking her either. It seems all kinds of wrong, but at the same time makes a lot of sense. Well, here’s hoping you love her next book so much more, fingers crossed!

  9. Olivia Roach

    It seems like this one was a decent idea and it raised awareness about a pretty much unheard of disease (I’d never heard of it until now, personally. And it sounds incredibly sad…) But it’s a shame that you couldn’t really feel the emotional effect of things and that this book wasn’t able to really pull on your heartstrings.

  10. Tammy V

    Yes I like books with unique anything. I have seen reviews for and against this book so this makes me curious. I am a big memory keeper with photos, videos, mementos, etc. It would kill me to lose those true memories though.

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