What a huge, steaming pile of disappointment.
Short recap: Flora Banks is a seventeen year old who has no short-term memory and therefore cannot form long term memories. Things change when Flora kisses a boy and suddenly that memory stays in her mind, the first one that has stayed since her surgery. She starts a journey on her own to hunt down this boy after he leaves for school.
If you followed my reading progress on Goodreads, you would have seen how much this book irritated me. Allow me:
If you read this, go into it knowing that a lot of this book will repeat itself several times. That means the overall story is not really that long, but the protagonist, Flora, spends most of her time repeating the same things over and over and over. This did start to grind my gears after a while because of her reactions to discovering she had no idea what was going on. She was just so manic and had no rational sense that might come with sitting down and trying to figure things out. That could have also been due to her mind sometimes thinking she was a ten year old and not a seventeen year old. Either way, it started to wear on me. Flora’s character was maddening, no question about it. I never connected with her so I felt nothing when except frustration when she chose to lie to everyone and put herself in extreme danger. She chose to behave in the most immature way possible as her thoughts became more and more irrational.
That brings me to her best friend, Paige. I know these are teenage girls but Paige was horrid, self-centered and uncaring. She was supposed to be staying with Flora while her parents were out of country but Paige chose to leave Flora alone and never told anyone about it. You’re talking about a girl that cannot form memories! How selfish can you be?! How is she going to remember to do anything besides the notes she writes herself and leaves scattered throughout the house? I wanted to smack her. Hard. She was supposed to be Flora’s bestest friend in the entire world, the one person Flora and her family could rely on and she chose to behave like a childish brat. I felt nothing but frustration and anger towards her. There was nothing she could do to ever change that.
Now let’s take a few moments to talk about Flora’s family. What in the ever loving. WHO wouldn’t notice what Flora’s mom was doing to her? What was really going on? Had nobody heard of child services? How could she get away with that? Not even a concerned neighbor or family friend placing an anonymous call to have things checked out? I don’t buy it. You’re selling and I’m not buying. That was a cluster pot of a family and it did not feel believable. I sort of believed Flora’s brother, Jacob. I wish he had more of a role in this one but he felt like a side character only referenced when it was convenient. If this had been more of a story about the power of a sibling connection and their bond I would have enjoyed that more.
The overall plot of the story was all over the road. I feel Barr couldn’t decide what direction the story should take so she decided to throw a little of everything in to see what came out. There was one part that stood out in my mind more than the rest that really made this unbelievable and made me just want the story over. Barr wrote in a few paragraphs how easily Flora made a trip (trains, boats, and planes) as if it were something the character did every day. Are you messing with me right now? This is the same character that couldn’t remember to shower daily but yet she can buy a plane ticket and make a huge trip from the UK to the Arctic? You need to peddle that stuff to someone else but it doesn’t jive with me. There is no way. The girl woke up in a hotel room absolutely freaking out but apparently it wasn’t a big deal if she woke up on an airplane?! Get real.
I can tell you this: the last chapter did not match the rest of the book. Not one bit and really sealed the deal on me not enjoying this. It was not an “AH-HA!” moment, it was a “What? Are you serious? That’s what you’re going to do with this?!” It just felt too convenient. Barr tried to wrap everything up in a pretty bow and leave the reader with a warm fuzzy feeling. How is that possible when the entire book was nothing like what dished out at the end?
Most of the book was Flora chasing what she thought was instalove across the globe (not believable, either) and screaming, “I KISSED DRAKE” every time she read her notes and that one memory came back. As shown above in my GR status updates, I don’t ever want to hear the name Drake again. Here is the big thing I want to scream: Can we just stop pretending falling in love cures all illnesses? It felt like that is what Barr was trying to say with this story. In a way, this story felt insensitive to those in real life that actually have the inability to form long term memories. This story was not one about a girl with a mental disability, it was one about a girl who latched on to the first boy that paid attention to her and she turned stalker on him. She chased him around the globe without a care for her safety or what it might due to her family/friends. That’s not the story I was hoping to read.