ARC Review: The Memory Book by Laura Avery

review         book

I'll Meet You Theretitle: The Memory Book
author: Lara Avery
pages: 357
format: Paperback
buy it: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads
rating: 5/5 (from hated to loved) or 9/10 (all books I've ever read)
recommended for: Fans of Wuthering HeightsLegacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman, other sweeping, epic, historical dramas.
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.

in depth

  • If you're looking for a good cry and a better book, go pick this up.  Immediately.  The Memory Book is a beautiful drama, memorializing and celebrating the life of one girl afflicted with an impossible disease.  

  • I'd imagine this would appeal to people who loved Still Alice, although I usually avoid such books so I wouldn't know for sure.  Perhaps, like The Fault in Our Stars, I can read this because I'm no longer a teenager, and so can experience the tragedy therein from the safety of my bubble (whereas old age is still ahead of me, so books like that hit too close for me to seek out willingly).  The comparison to TFIOS is also a comment on TMB's quality.  It's a gorgeous tough-stuff book, unflinching without being heavy-handed, heart-wrenching without being manipulative (I'm looking at you, Nick Sparks).  

  • Sammie is an incredible narrator.  She's a teenager with a life-threatening, mind-threatening disease, but she's still foremost a teenager.  She screws up.  A lot.  She hurts people.  She acts selfishly and impulsively.  She's refreshingly grumpy and obsessive, a masterful debater whose tongue could cut glass, who views the parties and dalliances of her fellow students as an interesting social experiment.  Her stuffiness and judgmental attitude towards other teens turned me off at first--until I realize, wincing, that it's probably because I was her.  And like any good character, she endeared herself to me anyway, with her indomitable spirit, fierce individuality, and really hysterically awkward, self-aware musings.  

  • It's a book about Sammie learning to live.  Opening herself up to the friendships she'd found too cumbersome before.  Going after the beautiful boy she's had a crush on for years.  In the most awkward, wonderful way.  (Seriously, can't adequately express how funny this book is despite simultaneously being tear-inducing.)  Kicking ass at debate and reconnecting with her childhood bestie.  

  • And also dealing with the very real and unavoidable decay of her memory and sense of self.  I think the scariest, most shattering part of this story is that Sammie is facing not only death, but dissolution.  She begins to falter.  To forget where she is.  Who she is.  What she's learned.  For a person like me who lives so much in my head, forgetting is probably the scariest damn thing there is.  Watching Sammie struggle to record the experiences she knows she'll forget next week is utterly horrifying.  

  • So, you've probably guessed that this isn't going to be a happy book.  I can't promise you miracles, because life doesn't, and Avery doesn't make it that easy.  But she also doesn't use Sammie's illness as a conceit.  It's authentic, true, the story of someone dealing with something huge and seemingly insurmountable and also just dealing with life.  Avery captures Sammie's insecure, precocious voice with an ease that's surprising in a debut.  I cried, so much, but I also laughed.  I found my own thoughts mirrored there and also lived inside someone else's head.  

  • It's a tough book, so it won't appeal to everyone.  But if you can steel yourself for the pain, it's a truly beautiful piece of fiction, a story and characters that demand to be heard and refuse to be forgotten.  

      in a sentence

      The Memory Book is a beautiful drama, funny and tragic, awkward and real, a story and characters that demand to be heard and refuse to be forgotten.  


      will i read this author again?  Yes! I can't wait to see what she does next. 
      will i continue the series?  N/A 

      Note: I received this copy in exchange for a review. The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.


      1. ooohhh, this sounds like my type of read. I like books that make me cry (I don't even know why I read to cry. ugh). The disease sounds interesting and really hints drama. So glad to know you enjoyed this. Great review, CJ! I'm adding this to my tbr! :D

        czai @ the Blacksheep Project

      2. I read this book back in July. It broke my heart, but it was beautiful. Now I am crying after reading your review. SOB! (It was a great review and I agree with so many things you said)

      3. I'm reading this next, so I am so glad to see you liked it so much! It sounds like such a heartbreaking but powerful book and I can't wait to read it. :) Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! <3

      4. I absolutely loved this book. I literally broke down crying every couple pages or so because I was reminded of the fact that there probably wouldn't be a happy ending. AND yes to Still Alice. I absolutely LOVED Still Alice and I picked up this book because of how much I loved the latter. This really is like the YA version of Still Alice, and it was just as good :)