The One Memory of Flora Banks
Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has anterograde amnesia–since a brain injury at age ten, she can’t hold new memories in her head for more than a few hours. But then she kisses a boy on a beach and she remembers it. Writing notes to herself so she’ll remember who she is and what she’s doing, Flora uses her parents’ emergency visit to her estranged ailing brother as an opportunity to travel to the Arctic and find the boy she kissed. As she searches for the boy who made her remember for once, Flora confronts hard truths about her past, her family, her memory, and herself.
The book succeeds in allowing the reader to experience what it’s like to live inside of Flora’s mind–her limited memory and the movement from awareness to forgetfulness is well drawn and often touching. The cast of characters Flora encounters during her Arctic adventure is warm and lively, and Barr’s style is simple but affecting. While the book effectively builds suspense and triumphs in its hopefulness, the twists and turns at the novel’s end pile on top of each other quickly and complicate the novel’s apparent representation and understanding of disability. Beautiful and complex, The One Memory of Flora Banks is disserviced by its neat ending.