So I'm writing this about ten minutes after finishing The Memory Book* by Lara Avery. I needed a little time to gather my thoughts and pick up the pieces of my heart, but wanted to get all of my feelings out straight away. Well that got intense. Seriously though, this book is heartbreaking but so so beautiful, and I urge you to read it.
From the cover:
Sam McCoy is 17.
Sam McCoy was going to be someone - and then she became ill.
Now, she must figure out who she is...
So first of all, I have to say that I would never usually pick up this kind of story. Books or films about terrible illnesses tend to kickstart my anxiety: "omg that happens to me" or "I have three out of those four symptoms!" So I almost always avoid them. However, when the lovely people at Books With Bite asked if I wanted to review The Memory Book, I didn't hesitate to say yes. I'd seen so many fab things about it on social media, so I was super intrigued. I do not regret my decision in the slightest.
At first, it took me a while to get into it, around 100 pages in fact. Tonight I started reading from page 100 and finished the whole thing - I was hooked. The book is written in a sort of journal style, for Sammie to document her days to help out "Future Sammie" as she is known. The way that Sammie writes becomes increasingly different as the disease progresses, and this hit me hard.
There was something I found so endearing about Sammie. She's quirky and a little bit awkward and I loved it. Now I don't know how much of that comes from the illness (which obviously I do not love!), but she does mention that she's always had trouble with social cues, and it was a nice change for me to read about a female character who isn't always super cool, doesn't always have masses of friends and isn't always calm and collected around boys.
While I found Sammie 100% believable and had a really solid image of her in my head the whole way through, I didn't really relate to any of the other characters. This being said, the story definitely focuses on Sammie's battle with her disease, so I can't say I mind not loving the other characters too much.
This story is not just emotional, but seriously inspirational too. Sammie doesn't ever give up on her hopes or dreams, even in the face of a terminal illness. I feel like everyone could use a bit of that inspiration, even just for small things in day to day lives. I giggled, I smiled and my heart was broken. I loved it.
I don't want to say much more, as I feel like this is the kind of story that it is best to go into without much prior knowledge. The Memory Book is released on the 26th January 2017. I advise that you grab a copy, and some tissues while you're at it.
*this proof copy was sent to me for free in exchange for an honest review