Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on July 5, 2016
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.
I first heard about THE MEMORY BOOK by Lara Avery during my annual meeting with Little, Brown at BEA in May. My contact in LYBR publicity told me it was her favorite book of the season. Anyone who has written professional reviews for long enough knows when a publicist is just doing her job to pitch and when she’s legitimately, genuinely excited to promote her book/movie/show/artist. I knew she wasn’t lying when she insisted I take the ARC right then, so when Hannah at Irish Banana Blog Tours emailed to ask who was interested in the blog tour, I figured this was a perfect opportunity to read and review the book.
THE MEMORY BOOK reminds me a bit of the Academy Award winning film STILL ALICE, in which a brilliant linguist and Ivy League professor played by Julianne Moore suffers from early-onset dementia at the age of 50. As the movie progresses, you see how this once supersmart woman devolves slowly into someone who doesn’t remember words — her lifeblood — or recognize her own family members.
Similarly, high-school senior Sammie McCoy is a brilliant lover of words (she’s her high school valedictorian and a nationally-ranked debate champion) who is headed down to NYU from her New England mountain town in Vermont. But when she’s diagnosed with a rare disease that almost never strikes adolescents — Niemann-Pick Disease Type C. It causes dementia, regression, jaundice, vertical gaze palsy (the inability to move the eyes up and down), enlarged liver, enlarged spleen, and an extremely shortened life-span.
THE MEMORY BOOK is an epistolary novel; it’s Sammie’s journal, a diary to her “Future Sammie,” which she sincerely hopes will read and remember what she thought and went through in the earlier stages of the disease. Sammie isn’t the best at emotions or social cues, but she does her best to convey all of the frustration and fear she feels at being denied the chance to finally move off her rural Vermont hometown and live in New York City.
I loved how Sammie’s journey reveals so much about her true self. She thinks she’s unattractive and incapable of being desired but ends up being quite wanted and loved. She thinks she has no enduring friendships outside of her family but reunites with her childhood best friend and neighbor, Cooper Lind, an athletic and handsome “stoner bro” with a heart of gold. She worries she won’t be able to continue her intellectualism yet she has a relationship with an up-and-coming author. Yes, her disease’s degenerative nature is terrible, and there are many passages when you’ll need Kleenex nearby, because they’re that heartbreaking. But, Avery makes sure you finish the book appreciative of everything Sammie’s titular memory book reveals about her life.
ABOUT AUTHOR LARA AVERY:
Lara Avery takes her role as a young writer very seriously; she enjoys wandering the world notebook in hand, making her living off of odd jobs. One of those jobs happens to be publishing the novel Anything But Ordinary just two years after getting a degree in Film Studies from Macalester College.
When Lara left home armed with nothing but a basketball scholarship, she told everyone she was going to law school. Then, when she started interning at The Onion and publishing pieces of fiction in national anthologies, she realized her secret plans to be a writer all along.
Though Lara sat down to write Anything But Ordinary everywhere from a 110 degree apartment in Kolkata to a hostel in Berlin, she always felt at home in Bryce’s story. Writing currently from St. Paul, MN, she hopes her debut novel will be the first of many.
GIVEAWAY OF THE MEMORY BOOK:
Three (3) hardcover copies of THE MEMORY BOOK will be given away during the blog tour. Enter for your chance to win! This is open to U.S. residents only.
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