Title: The Memory Book
Author: Lara Avery
Genre: YA, contemporary, romance
Published: Paperback edition released 27th January 2017 (UK, originally published in 2016)
Publisher: Quercus Children’s Books
Acquired: Free ARC obtained at YALC
Book Blurb:: Sam McCoy is 17.
Sam McCoy was going to be someone- and then she became ill.
Now she must figure out who she is…
First of all, this book squeezed my heart a little. I had heard a lot of good things about this book when it was originally published, and I was so excited to grab a ARC of the paperback at YALC this year. NOTE:: As my edition is an ARC the cover of my copy is different to the published version.
I picked this up and read this so so quickly. It was an easy read but so interesting, and I couldn’t stop myself from finding out what was going to happen next.
This book is essentially a diary/collection of messages from the life of A-grade student, Sam McCoy. She is a 17 year-old girl who suffers from the rare disease Niemann-Pick Type C (NPC), a rare form of dementia that affects her memories and body. At the beginning of the book we see her explain this to her guidance counselor, and that she wants to keep going, become valedictorian and get a scholarship to university like she has been dreaming about. She writes this diary as a way of her to remember what her life is like, and for her to cope with whatever is going on at the time (whether that is related to the disease or not).
From this collection of diary entries, text messages and emails we get to see the events in Sammie’s life, including more information about this debilitating illness, her family, her inner thoughts (such as white philosophers Sam would love to make out with), debate club with her closest friend and some romantic developments.
Sam is a very headstrong character, and this did initially clash with me at the beginning of the book so I found it hard to like her. But as the book progressed you really get to see the vulnerable teenage girl hiding behind the determination and bravado. I admire her strength and I love the way Lara Avery has portrayed her to be just a typical teenager who is just trying to live her life as everyone else does. Sammie is so intelligent and prides herself on her memory, and I am amazed at how strong she is in not letting NPC get in her way. She chooses not to tell certain people for a while which is a brave move and it was interesting to see how different people reacted to the revelation and changes in Sam as a character. It was also really nice to have a protagonist who adapted to her own changes so well too and didn’t just spend the whole book wallowing in her room (of course that would still be an acceptable reaction given the diagnosis, it just isn’t good for this book’s plot).
The writing of this book is so engaging. The first-person diary format means the tone is so conversational and you really feel that you can understand Sam a bit more. She is so opinionated, independent and strong and I just wanted everything to be okay for her. You get so used to the way she thinks and speaks that when symptoms of the disease do appear it really shocks you. It is so so difficult to accurately portray the effects of a disease like this in a book, especially as the whole concept of dementia is that you lose the ability to communicate effectively, yet the protagonist here is the sufferer.
There were times when I felt that Sam was on ups and downs, which sometimes confused me and made me forget how ill she was, but looking back I suppose that is actually what it is like. Although it is slightly different my gran suffered from Alzheimer’s for many years, and I know that she could be worse on one day than another. It is impossible to completely grasp the severity of NPC in a novel, and Sam’s personality means she plays down a lot of what happens to her. I feel that Lara Avery has done an amazing job. Every time something new happened or Sam discovered a new symptom, my heart cracked a little.
Oh gosh and the romance! Everything was just so sweet! ❤ In the end there was a love triangle and it was a bit messy, but unlike a lot of romance tales both guys were GOOD guys. They were both so understanding of NPC, and it was really nice to see how both Stuart and Coop reacted to the developments with Sammie. Honestly Coop should have been more logical and really shouldn’t have taken part in the whole situation at Potholes (I wont say any more because of spoilers), but at the same time he redeemed himself in so many ways.
Page 317 really choked me up. Oh gosh Coop why are you pulling my heartstrings like that!! ❤ Every time I read it it makes me have such a sad smile. Coop is such a sweetie despite some of the bad choices he has made growing up, and I just wanted to give him a hug #TheFeels
The ending was really emotional too. Everything happened really quickly, but I loved the “montage” section where you get a brief glimpse at how everyone else is feeling. I didn’t want the book to end, I didn’t think I could take all these bittersweet feelings!
This book is so hard to describe; it was a really good read and I LOVE how Lara Avery portrayed Sam and everything that’s happening around her. Parts of the book weren’t as interesting as others, particularly at the beginning, but it was still a very inspirational read.
It was a very different book to everything I’ve read before and it really taught me the importance of being true to yourself, no matter what obstacles life throws at you. Overall it was a quick but really nice read, I would recommend this.
The book is out now, but the Quercus paperback version is due to be released on the 26th January 2017.
Has anyone else read this book? What did you think about NPC? Let me know in the comments!