Book Title:
The One Memory of Flora Banks
Book Author:
Emily Barr
Page Count:
Publishing Date:
May 2nd, 2017
Philomel Books
Date Read:
May 4th, 2017
ARC from publisher - Thank you!


Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora's brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend's boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora's fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.

With little more than the words "be brave" inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must "be brave" if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.

My Review

The One Memory of Flora Banks is probably one of the best books that I’ve read to date – it was deep and told such an incredible story that was both heartwarming and heartwrenching at the same time.

The One Memory of Flora Banks starts off with our main character, Flora Banks, at a party that her best friend is throwing for her boyfriend, who is leaving to go study in Svalbard, Norway.  It might not seem odd for any other teenager – a fun party at a beach house, with friends gathering to say their goodbyes and wish someone good luck.  There’s the typical activities – drinking, dancing, and of course, everyone is having fun.  Except for Flora.

Flora, who had suffered, but recovered, from a brain tumor when she was ten, does not have the ability to make new memories ever since she had the tumor removed.  While it was removed and she survived, she can no longer remember new things – her mind essentially resets itself a few times a day, and she doesn’t remember anything that happened.  She does, however, remember things from before the tumor took her ability to make new memories – including her family, the town she lives in, and her best friend.  The best friend who is saying goodbye to her boyfriend, Drake, who is leaving for Norway.

Drake, who Flora finds herself sitting on the beach with and kissing.

Of course, Flora writes down what happened that evening, as she does with everything, she doesn’t forget.  She writes on her arms, she writes in a notebook, and she writes sticky notes and leaves them around, so she can remember things.  So she does this so that she can remember her very first kiss with this boy that she finds herself having feelings for.

But the thing is, the next morning, Flora does not need these notes – she remembers being on the beach with Drake.  She remembers the kiss.  She doesn’t understand how – this is the first thing she has been able to remember since the brain tumor was removed, and she isn’t sure how to deal with it.

“I can remember it.  I remember things from before I got sick, and now I remember kissing Drake.  I know, now, that I am not a little girl, because I kissed a boy on a beach, and he asked me to spend the night with him.  I am not ten.  I am seventeen.
I can remember it.  The stone, or Drake, made me remember.
Perhaps this is what it is to fall in love.”

When Flora’s parents leave to go to Paris to tend to their son, Flora’s brother, who is terminally ill, they leave Flora in the care of her best friend, Paige.  But her friend has seen the writing on Flora’s arms, and the notes in Flora’s bag, and she knows that Flora and Drake kissed.  So to punish her, she leaves her alone.

Alone for days, Flora takes care of herself by writing reminder notes to herself – things like her parents are in Paris, things like she should clean up, and she manages to keep herself going.  Her parents aren’t aware of the falling out she has had with Paige, and they think that she is there taking care of Flora, as planned.  But Flora is by herself, and she hides this well.

While she is home alone, she begins talking to Drake through e-mails, telling him that she remembers the kiss and she wants to be with him.  The two of them e-mail back and forth, which warms Flora’s heart, and she slowly starts falling in love with him.  But when he decides that maybe things won’t work out because she isn’t in Norway, she sets off on a journey that will take her there, in order to surprise Drake and show him how much she cares.

The journey to Norway is a difficult one – after all, Flora can’t remember things past a few hours, so she will forget names, faces, and where she is, unless she continues to keep notes and review them.  Even with that, the journey is unlike anything she has ever been through – all in the name of love and the kiss from a boy that she can’t forget.

“I am really here. Yet I know I am not. I am inside something that must be buried in my head. I am layers deep in my own brain.”

This is such an amazingly written book – since Flora is our narrator, we more or less get to hear her thoughts and see the world how she sees it, including the difficult things, like forgotten memories, not knowing who people are, and the overwhelming desire to find Drake.

This book is powerful and tells a story of what great lengths that the human heart can go to in the name of love.

I haven’t read anything quite like this – I have read books that deal with memory loss and amnesia, but nothing quite so in-depth and focused like The One Memory of Flora Banks.  This book is really amazing, and obviously well researched, and I think the author did a superb job of writing Flora’s character. 

While I guess the ending hadn’t really been what I was expecting, it wraps up the book so nicely and makes the story feel complete.  So many things in this book are depressing, but at the end of the book, there is a new hope given to both Flora and the reader, which I loved.

Flora’s character is written so well – I found myself really loving her and hoping for her throughout the entire novel.  While she did develop a quick love for Drake, it’s because she believes that the reason she can remember the kiss from Drake is because he must certainly be the one – they must be meant to be together.  The journey that she sets off on in order to find him is amazing.  It shows just how strong and determined that Flora is.

Paige’s character, on the other hand, is pretty much a jerk, and I found myself disliking her from the very beginning.  Ditching out on something important like watching over Flora because Flora kissed Drake was kind of immature – seeing as how their relationship wasn’t going to work out anyway.  The way she spoke to Flora and didn’t want to help out with keeping her safe while her parents were away was selfish and hurtful to Flora, regardless.

With an engaging story and a determined character who is willing to go to great lengths to get what she wants and hold on to a single memory, The One Memory of Flora Banks is the kind of book that you won’t want to put down until you’ve finished it completely, and even then you’re going to want to read it again!

If you liked reading my review for The One Memory of Flora Banks, check out my Flora Banks inspired cupcakes on my stop on the blog tour for the book!

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