The One Memory of Flora Banks

The One Memory of Flora Banks


Title: The One Memory of Flora Banks

Author: Emily Barr

Series: N/A

Publisher: Penguin

Release Date: January 12th 2017

Rating:

Two Stars

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 tumour 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.

– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com

My Thoughts On…

…The Plot

“Don’t panic, because everything is probably all right, and it it’s not, panicking will make it worse.”

After having a tumour in her brain removed when she was only ten Flora has been unable to retain any memories, instead she is forced to rely on the words scribbled on her hands to tell her her story. Until the night she kisses Drake before he leaves town to study in Norway, and all of a sudden Flora has a memory that sticks in her mind. However Drake was her best friends boyfriend, and by kissing him, falling in love with him, Flora loses Paige.

When her parents have to rush off to Paris to take care of her sick brother Flora has a chance to discover who she can be without them hovering over her. She starts exchanging emails with Drake and with each one falls deeper and deeper in love with him, until a message arrives that has her running off to Svalbard. Flora is completely alone in a new world, somewhere she is wholly unfamiliar with, but she knows Drake is close and she is determined to find him before her parents discover she’s gone missing.

“Although I don’t know much about anything, I know that I have a story. I know that it is not over. There are shades and shadows of adventures and people and wild new places.”

*Spoilers for The One Memory of Flora Banks below*

The amnesia makes Flora an unreliable narrator. When she finally catches up with Drake he claims he never kissed Flora, that she made up their romance in her head, and this is further proved when the emails Flora exchanged with ‘Drake’ turn out to have come from an account Flora created. I loved this twist, until it was later revealed that Drake did kiss her and lied about it. The second reveal didn’t really add much to the story, and in my mind it actually took something away from the impact of the first twist.

*End of spoilers*

I hadn’t heard much about The One Memory of Flora Banks before I read it, but after reading it I wish I had checked out some of the other reviews because then I would have gone into this book with lowered expectations. It took me a while to connect with Flora’s character and her story, and while I understand that the way Emily Barr wrote this book, repeating sentences over and over, emphasised Flora’s amnesia after a while they became tired reading.

…The Characters

“I see a girl who has suffered a terrible damage to her brain. Someone who, it seems, is shut away by her parents to keep her safe. But inside there is a vibrant person, a traveller, and her memory of this boy Drake has propelled her into action.”

Flora was a great character, granted it took me a little while to connect with her but when I did I loved reading her journey in this book. Suffering from amnesia Flora is essentially stuck at ten, but she has such a pure and adventurous spirit that shines through as the story unfolds. With her parents away from home Flora can make her own decisions, for the first time in her life, and one of the things she decides to do is run off to Norway after the boy she loves.

The relationship between Flora and Drake felt really off to me. It’s insta-love but I think that worked in this book simply because of how child-like Flora was, however that being said it’s kind of creepy that Drake would kiss Flora when she is essentially ten years old in her mind. Physically Flora is older than that – I can’t remember her exact age but it’s around sixteen or seventeen – but you can’t write a character like Flora, a character who hasn’t been able to retain any memories since she was ten years old, and not have the romance between her and Drake feel creepy.

“We have had some times together—I wish you could have those memories, my darling. We’ve walked and laughed and been shopping and played hide-and-seek. We’ve watched films. We’ve sat up all night talking. You’re my universe.”

Unfortunately while Flora was a character I enjoyed reading, I can’t say the same for any of the other characters because they weren’t developed enough for me to enjoy reading about them. Jacob, Flora’s brother, supposedly plays a big part in her journey. His messages reach the adventurer in Flora, the wild spirit she has, but he’s hardly in the story at all and we never hear from him beyond his few emails and texts.

There were also characters who made really bad choices I can’t wrap my head around. Flora’s ‘best friend’ promises her parents she’ll keep an eye on Flora while they’re in Paris, but because of what happened between Flora and Drake Paige cuts Flora out of her life and doesn’t tell her parents that she isn’t checking in on their daughter like she promised. How is this acceptable considering the problems Flora has, and the fact that the amnesia has essentially left her at ten years old?

“There is something that the parents are keeping secret. I write it on a note and stuff it into my pocket. ‘M&D have a secret from me.'”

*Spoilers for The One Memory of Flora Banks below*

At the end of this book it’s revealed that Flora’s parents have been drugging their daughter, keeping her on tranquilisers to keep her adventurous spirit subdued. When he discovered this Jacob ran away to Paris rather than be a part of what his parents were doing to their daughter. I feel like there were better ways this could have been dealt with considering this feels very much like child abuse. The fact that Flora’s parents had to get these drugs off the internet because “no doctor would allow that kind of long-term dependency” (an actual quote from the book here) tells you this is not something social services, or even the police, would allow to happen.

*End of spoilers*


There were things I enjoyed about this book; Flora’s character was endearing, her journey was well-paced, and the setting of Svalbard fuelled the wanderlust in me. However it was everything else about The One Memory of Flora Banks that brought my rating of this book down. The other characters weren’t well written and their choices made no sense which just ended up annoying me.

What did you think of The One Memory of Flora Banks? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.

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28 thoughts on “The One Memory of Flora Banks

  1. I just finished reading it, and I agree with you. It was quick and easy to read, and there were a lot of good aspects, but I found a lot of flaws. I feel like Paige and Jacob were both underdeveloped, and although it worked in terms of her lack of memory, I did find it a bit repetitive! It’s nice to see other people thinking the same, I thought I might be the only one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah looking back I can see there were some good aspects to the story, but for me the bad aspects kind of overwhelmed it. The characters made bad choices and there was never enough development of them to understand why they made those choices. 🙂
      Definitely not the only one, looking on Goodreads there are a fair few mixed reviews for this book. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Huh. Sounds like some very interesting ideas. But having quite a few adopted sibling myself, I’m very uneasy about stories with child abuse. This sounds pretty good, but I’ll probably give it a pass.
    Great review, though!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think overall there was a really good concept, but for me the story couldn’t live up to its premise. I think the child abuse could be triggering for a few people, there are books I’m uneasy about reading for certain reasons I won’t get into in this comment, so yeah I can’t say I’d recommend picking this one up based on that.
      Thanks so much. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah I see what you mean about the second twist- I do think the first twist worked better, but I was still kinda okay with the second twist cos it kept me on my toes. Flora really was a great character though. I didn’t like Drake either, but it got redeemed by the second twist for me tbh. And I did feel like some of the other characters were less developed because of the whole amnesia plot, which was a pity, but kinda something I accepted. I do agree with you about the issue with the parents- I did feel like *someone* would’ve intervened somewhere. Anyway, I get why you had quite a bit of trouble with this book, even though I quite enjoyed it. It’s kind of a hit or miss book. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel like the first twist was enough to keep me on my toes when it came to the story, because I kind of believed Drake would be in Svalbard waiting for Flora you know?
      Exactly, I think that’s what bugged me the most because no parent would be able to get away with doing what Flora’s parents did to her. Then again if they hadn’t there wouldn’t really have been much of a story would there?
      Definitely hit or miss, and unfortunately a miss for me. 🙂 Thanks so much. 😀 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh I’m so sorry this book wasn’t that good for you, Beth! I really like books dealing with memory, somehow, when characters have amnesia, memory issues or just books with flashbacks and past/present overall. It’s something that I really love, so I had noticed this book…. but another blogger I know didn’t really love that book either… I think I might stay away from that one 🙂
    I hope your next read will be better 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah I think this one had a good concept but the actual story didn’t live up to it. Definitely a shame but we can’t love every book we pick up I guess. 🙂
      I could be wrong but I think this is the first book dealing with an amnesiac (really hope I’ve spelt that right) character that I’ve read, I can’t say it’s convinced me to pick up any others and if you enjoy those stories Marie I definitely wouldn’t recommend this one. I think you’d feel the same way about The One Memory of Flora Banks as I did. 🙂
      Thanks, I hope so too! 🙂 ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I had seen this book floating around a few months back & thought it had an interesting premise…but you bring up some really good points that tell me it’s a pass. The “bff” who abandons the MC whilst knowing she has amnesia & the mind of a 10 year old seems TERRIBLE…she could’ve at least informed her parents. Then there’s the Kiss that never happened but the did? to top it off with parents that are keeping her in a drug induced state? I’m so glad I read your review Beth! this one would leave a bad taste in my mouth as they say lol. Great review 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was the same because I saw this one floating around and thought it had a good premise, so I read it and unfortunately the story just didn’t live up to the concept. It seemed like every time I thought I couldn’t hate a character more something happened with another character to change my mind. In the end this book was just full of people making bad decisions that I honestly don’t think people in real life would ever make. :/
      I can’t say I’d recommend this one Lilly, I feel like your opinions on this book would be similar to mine if you did ever pick it up. Thanks! 🙂 ❤️

      Like

  6. Not gonna lie, I didn’t enjoy that book at all. The repetitiveness and simple lack of logic when it came to actions of the supposedly adult/more-grown-up characters (in relation to Flora, who, as you pointed out, is still very much child-like) was simply infuriating. While I am never glad when a book doesn’t work for others, I am, however, glad that I am not alone in thinking this was more of a miss than a hit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I get what you mean. I feel like the only thing I really enjoyed was the setting of Svalbard, and the setting is not enough to accept the flaws in the plot and characters. I feel like after a while I kind of got used to the repetition and skimmed over it, but at first yeah it really annoyed me, and I think the characters were the worst part of this book for me. It seemed like nothing any of them did made any kind of sense.
      Ha, yeah I’m kind of a little relieved to see I’m not the only one who feels this way about this book. I’d have to wonder what I was missing if everyone loved this one and I didn’t, right? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I skimmed over the repetitive stuff as well, but that cannot seriously be the purpose of someone’s writing, you know? I don’t think anyone should a write a book thinking that their readers will skip over the next paragraphs anyway.
        I hate it when I feel like the odd one out, which was kind of happening with this book. Well, now you definitely know, you are not alone!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. My thoughts were similar to yours. I really liked the character of Flora’s brother and thought it was a shame that he didn’t play a bigger part. I enjoyed the concept of the book but thought a lot more could have been done with it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah it seemed like he was a main part of Flora’s story, the only person cheering her on and encouraging her to live her life, but he was never more than a secondary character in the book. I really wish he’d played more of a role in the story rather than just being an afterthought. It’s definitely an intriguing concept, and yeah more really could have been done with it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It was just one of those books that had more issues than not. Definitely a shame but there were still positives to the story, though admittedly not many. 🙂
      That’s all right, I’m glad you enjoyed this review. Yeah the romance was more creepy than not and the family dynamic wasn’t at all the kind I like to read in YA contemporary books.

      Liked by 1 person

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