The Memory Book is exactly what it says. It’s a fiction about Samantha McCoy, 17, the smartest girl in school, a champion debater and she’s been diagnosed with a memory loss disease, a kind of dementia. She writes The Memory Book (or types it on her laptop) to her future herself, as a way to remind her who she is and what she did.
Sammie is a very determined girl, and her voice is snappy-smart but without the snark, a combination that I liked. I was a bit wary about the disease element (yeah, there are a few of those around and once you’ve read a few they can get tiresome: sorry, I’m feeling jaded) but I thought that it actually worked really well. A bit like many young adult novels featuring very ill teenagers, this is a novel about making the most of your life while you can and I felt that The Memory Book really pulled this off.
Interestingly, it made me think a bit quite a bit about dementia, not so much in young people, but in old people and how it might affect them in the little and big ways. Of course, it also made me think about giving life your best shot always.
There’s an interesting thread in the novel about first love and crushes (obviously!) although they left me wondering whether or not Sam ever really decided which was which. But does that matter anyway, whether it’s a crush or love (that’s me thinking through after reading as it’s not directly raised in the novel)?
I imagine this would appeal to readers who are competitively determined – or who like debates. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is on a debate team, or trying to get on a debate team. Samantha McCoy is exhausting!
Yep, I really enjoyed this novel: page-turning, thought-provoking and poignantly wistful.
Publication details: Quercus, 26 January 2017, London, paperback
This copy: uncorrected proof for possible review from the publisher