Cover image for The impossible knife of memory
Title:
The impossible knife of memory
Author:
Anderson, Laurie Halse.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, New York : Viking, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), 2014.

©2014.
Physical Description:
391 pages ; 22 cm
Summary:
"Hayley Kincaid and her father move back to their hometown to try a 'normal' life, but the horrors he saw in the war threaten to destroy their lives"--
Language:
English
Reading Level:
HL 720 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 4.7 12.0 163323.

Reading Counts RC High School 5.4 20 Quiz: 62390.
ISBN:
9780670012091
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Item Holds
Searching...
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Young Adult
Searching...
Searching...
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Being fixed/mended
Searching...
Searching...
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Young Adult
Searching...
Searching...
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Young Adult
Searching...
Searching...
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Young Adult
Searching...
Searching...
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Young Adult
Searching...
Searching...
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Young Adult
Searching...
Searching...
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Young Adult
Searching...
Searching...
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Young Adult
Searching...
Searching...
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Young Adult
Searching...
Searching...
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Searching...
Searching...
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Young Adult
Searching...
Searching...
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Reading List
Searching...
Searching...
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Reading List
Searching...

On Order

Summary

Summary

For the past five years, Hayley Kincaid and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own.

Will being back home help Andy's PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over? The Impossible Knife of Memory is Laurie Halse Anderson at her finest: compelling, surprising, and impossible to put down.


Author Notes

Laurie Halse Anderson was born in Potsdam, New York on October 23, 1961. She received a B.S.L.L. in Languages and Linguistics from Georgetown University in 1984. Before becoming a full-time author, she worked as a freelance reporter. Her first book, Ndito Runs, was published in 1996. She has written numerous books for children including Turkey Pox, No Time for Mother's Day, Fever 1793, Speak, Catalyst, Independent Dames: What You Never Knew about the Women and Girls of the American Revolution, Chains and The Impossible Knife of Memory. She also created the Wild at Heart series, which was originally published by American Girl but is now called the Vet Volunteers series and is published by Penguin Books for Young Readers.

Anderson has been nominated and won multiple honorary awards for her literary work. For the masterpiece Speak, Anderson won the Printz Honor Book Award, a National Book Award nomination, Golden Kite award, the Edgar Allan Poe Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her book Fever 1793 won the American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults selection and the Junior Library Guild selection. In 2008, Chains was selected for the National Book Award Finalist and in 2009 was awarded for its Historical Fiction the Scott O'Dell Award.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 4

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* There's a compelling theme running through Anderson's powerful, timely novel, and it's this: The difference between forgetting something and not remembering is big enough to drive an eighteen-wheeler through. Hayley Kincaid won't allow herself to remember the happy times in her life, and why should she? After five years on the road with her trucker father, Andy, the two are finally staying put in her grandmother's old house in upstate New York. But military tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan have left Andy racked by nightmares of gunfire and roadside bombs, and alcohol and drugs are his means of coping. Short, gripping chapters presented in italics appear on occasion and are told from Andy's point-of-view as the war rages around him. As her father's PTSD grows worse, and the past is ever present, 17-year-old Hayley assumes the role of parent. But there's a good part of her life, too: Finn. He's got dreams for his future, and, as Hayley lets him in to her own scary reality, she tentatively begins to imagine a future of her own. Unfortunately or fortunately memories have a way of catching up, and as each hits, it cuts away at Hayley's protective bubble like a knife. This is challenging material, but in Anderson's skilled hands, readers will find a light shining on the shadowy reality of living with someone who has lived through war and who is still at war with himself. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A major marketing campaign, including a national author tour, backs up this latest from multiple-award-winning Anderson.--Kelley, Ann Copyright 2010 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

As in Speak, Anderson provides a riveting study of a psychologically scarred teenager, peeling back layers of internal defenses to reveal a girl's deepest wounds. Her heroine, 17-year-old Hayley, is no stranger to loss. Her mother died when she was small, and she was later abandoned by her father's alcoholic girlfriend. Now the only family Hayley has left is her father, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, whose horrific flashbacks have brought chaos into their lives. After traveling the country in a "dented eighteen-wheeler," the two of them have settled down in her father's hometown. Hayley feels like an outsider at a high school populated by "zombies," and, at home, it's becoming increasingly difficult to pretend that her father is getting better. Then Hayley is drawn to Finn, a boy who seemingly likes her for who she is. Hayley's anxiety about her father's unpredictable behavior reverberates throughout the novel, overshadowing and distorting her memories of better times. It's a tough, absorbing story of the effects of combat on soldiers and the people who love them. Ages 12-up. Agent: Amy Berkower, Writers House. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

In Anderson's (Speak) unforgettable novel, 17-year-old Hayley Kincain and her father have settled in his hometown, and the memories they've been trying to outrun threaten to swallow them whole. For Hayley, memories of abandonment and her mother's and grandmother's deaths start to surface, first as ripples, than as waves. Her father tries to numb his memories of the Iraq War with drugs and alcohol, and his daughter is left picking up the pieces. Then a sweet young man barges into her life. For once, Hayley finds herself thinking about the future, but how can she do that when she's taking care of her father? The audio is narrated beautifully by Julia Whelan, whose youthful voice does wonders in bringing Hayley to life, and Luke Daniels, whose gruff and melancholy voice is the perfect portrayal of Hayley's father. VERDICT Engaging, heartfelt, and compelling, this is a must-listen from one of YA's best authors. For fans of realistic young adult literature and coming-of-age novels.-Erin Cataldi, Johnson Cty. P.L., Franklin, IN (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-Witty, sarcastic Hayley Kincain begins her official high school career as a senior when she and her father, Andy, move into his boyhood home. The duo had been traveling the country in an 18-wheeler for the past five years while Andy tried to outrun the demons that were chasing him. Captain Andy Kincain served multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan before being hurt in battle and suffering from PTSD. Hayley has assumed the role of caretaker, both on the road and now that they are back home, as she tries to keep Andy's depression and drug and alcohol use a secret. She doesn't want to get close to anyone and doesn't want to ponder what her life was like before the pair went on the road. Then she meets Finn, a good-looking and slightly nerdy boy who charms his way into her life. He has a secret-one as big as Hayley's-and helps her to realize that she may have more options and possibilities than she realizes. This story is as much Andy's as it is Hayley's, and narrators Julia Whelan and Luke Daniels bring the characters to life. Anderson's intense story of suspense and hope will resonate with listeners.-Amanda Rollins, Northwest Village School, Plainville, CT (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected proof.*** Copyright © 2014 by Laurie Halse Anderson -28- The crowd in the stadium roared so loudly I couldn't hear what the mom manning the ticket booth said. "Why?" I asked again. She glared and waited a beat for the noise to die down. "Everybody pays to get into the game. No exceptions." "But I'm the press," I whined. "On assignment." "Students get a dollar discount." She put her hand out. "Four dollars or don't go in." I paid her. Finn now owed me nineteen bucks. The bleachers were a wall of people dressed in Belmont yellow. For one second, it felt like they were all staring at me, that they all knew I came to the football game alone and didn't know where to sit, but then a whistle blew and the football teams on the field behind me crashed into each other and the crowd cheered and jumped up and down. I was invisible to them. I turned my back to the stands. On the other side of the field sat the enemy, the Richardson Ravens, dressed in black and silver. Beyond the goalposts at the far end of the field rose a gentle hill that was dotted with people sitting on blankets, little kids zooming around them, cheerfully ignoring the sad excuse for a football game. The referee blew his whistle and the two lines of players crashed into each other again, grunting and shouting. I couldn't see what happened to the ball, but the Richardson side of the field erupted in cheers. I texted Gracie: hey After a long pause, she wrote back: at movie ttyl? I sent a simple smiley face, because my phone did not have a smiley face that was wrapping her hands around her own throat and beating her head against a wall. The two teams ran to their huddles to plot out their next bit of brilliant strategy. They ended the huddle and ran back to line up, each face inches away from the scowling face of the enemy, feet pawing at the ground like impatient horses. The quarterback grunted, the lines crashed together, and they all fell down again. Everyone in Belmont yellow screamed and whistled. Should I be writing this down? I looked up at the stands. Wouldn't anyone who cared about this game be here? Why would they want to read about it? Answer: they wouldn't. My earlier plan to get the stats and eavesdrop for quotes first period Monday was still viable and even more attractive than it had been on the bus. I just needed someplace to go that was not my house. It was only a quarter to eight. I could probably make it to the mall before nine. what movie I texted Gracie. She didn't answer, which meant she was with Topher, which meant any hope I had of crashing her Friday night plans had just evaporated. How lame would it be for me to go to Gracie's house and ask her mom if she wanted to hang out? Mrs. Rappaport was a big fan of home makeover shows. Last time I was at her house, she'd been talking about redesigning her kitchen. Maybe we could watch a few episodes about countertops. I shuddered. I'd be better off spending the evening chasing rats out of Dumpsters. The clock clicked down the last few seconds to halftime, the refs blew their whistles, and people raced for the bathrooms and the food stand. "This is ridiculous," I muttered as I pressed against the fence that separated the spectators from the field. As soon as the herd moved past, I followed, intending to head for the parking lot, unchain my bike, and ride. Not home, not for a few hours. Just ride in the dark and hope that Topher and Gracie would have a huge fight and she'd call in tears and ask me to spend the night and mention that they had a lot of ice cream in the freezer. "Great game, huh?" I turned around, ready to spew venom about parents who were happy to pay taxes for football coaches but would be good-God-damned if they were going to waste their money on librarians or gym teachers. "I was certain we'd be down thirty points by now," Finn said. In his left hand, he was holding a flimsy cardboard box loaded with cheeseburgers, greasy fries, and two soda cups. In his right, he held a third cup that was filled with marigolds that looked like they'd been yanked out of somebody's backyard. "What'd you think of that first-down denial?" he asked. "Great way to end the half, right?" "What happened to your date?" I asked. "She's here," he said. "You brought your big date to this football game? You could have written the article yourself." "No, I couldn't," he said. "What girl wants to be ignored on a date? Hold this for me." He shoved the box that held the food and drink at me, pulled his buzzing phone out of his pocket, glanced at it, and typed a reply. Behind us, the marching band took their position on the field, drummers beating a solemn cadence. "Okay." Finn put his phone away. "Want to meet her?" "Wouldn't miss it for the world." I followed him through the crowd. "Is she a zombie?" I asked. "I bet she's wearing Belmont yellow. Oh, God, Finn--is she a cheerleader?" "Definitely not a zombie or a cheerleader or a zombie cheerleader. I'm just getting to know her. Actually, it's sort of a blind date." "That's gross," I said. "Old people go on blind dates when they get divorced and don't know what else to do. You're only, what? Sixteen?" "Almost eighteen," he corrected. "And you already need other people to fix you up?" I laughed. "This way." He took the box from me and headed for the exit. "Did you lock her in your trunk?" "I'm meeting her up on the hill. I thought it would be more romantic than cement bleachers." The marching band launched into "Louie, Louie," saving him from hearing my answer. -29- I followed him past the giggling children rolling down the hills like sausages. Past their tired parents sitting on stained comforters with their arms around each other. Past people critiquing the performance of the band and the flag twirlers. We walked all the way to the top of the hill and into the shadows beyond the reach of the stadium lights. "She dumped you," I said. "Not yet." He put the box of food and soda at the edge of a plaid blanket. "Maybe she had to pee," I said. "What's her name again?" "Her name is Hayley." He straightened up and handed me the cup of marigolds. "Hello, Miss Blue." -30- "Me," I said. "You," he confirmed. The marching band started playing the theme from the latest Batman movie. "Why didn't you just ask me?" "I was afraid you'd say no." "What if I say no right now?" "Do you want to?" I watched the band move in and out of their formations. "I haven't decided yet." "You could sit and eat while you're thinking about it," he suggested. We sat on the blanket, the cheeseburgers, fries, and flowers a border between us, watching the little kids and the band until halftime was over. It was marginally less awkward when the game started again, if only because there was so much to mock. Finally, the ref blew his whistle and it was official. The Belmont Machinists had lost their sixth game of the season and I had no idea what would happen next. I didn't know what I wanted to happen next. The stadium slowly emptied; the families on the hill gathered their kids and shepherded them toward the parking lot, and soon we were the only ones left. "Okay, here's the tricky part," Finn said. "The security guard is going to walk by to see if anyone is up here partying. I'm pretty sure we're far enough away that he won't be able to see us, but we should lie down for ten minutes or so, to be safe." "That is the lamest attempt ever to get a girl on her back," I said. "I'm serious. Look." Finn pointed to two security guards at the far end of the football field. "I'm not going to try anything. I swear. I'll move over here so you're comfortable." He scuttled about four yards away and lay on the grass. "How's this?" he whispered loudly. I lay down on the blanket carefully, keeping my head turned and my eyes open so I could watch him. "If you touch me, I'll cram your nose into your brain with the heel of my hand." "Shh," he said. The lights in the stadium started to click off, one at a time, until darkness took over the field. "A couple minutes more," Finn whispered, his voice reassuringly far away. The last of the cars pulled out of the parking lot, tires squealing. The chatter of the security guard's radio moved along the hill below us like a stray breeze. As it faded, I sat up and watched his flashlight bob into the distance. A few minutes later, the guard reached his car and slowly drove away, tires crunching over the gravel. "Close your eyes." Finn's voice startled me. "Count to twenty." "After I shove your nose into your brain, I will break your fingers and disable your kneecaps," I warned. "I'll stay here," he promised. "I'll keep talking so you know I haven't moved. Five. Six. Seven. Talking, talking, talking, okay? Eyes closed? You're lying down? I'm still talking and I am looking for something to talk about but it's tough because this is a bizarre situation. Fifteen. Sixteen. Somehow I failed to anticipate that your response to my well-thought-out date would be to threaten me with violence. I should have been prepared for that. The next time I'm in a meeting with MI5--" "Can I open my eyes yet?" I asked. "Twenty," he replied. "Look straight up." The night sky stretched on forever above me, the stars flung like glass beads and pearls on a black velvet cloak. "Wow," I whispered. "Yeah," he said. "I had to pull a lot of strings to get the weather to cooperate, but it all worked out in the end. Can I sit on the blanket now?" "Not yet." I found the Big Dipper and Orion's Belt with no problem, but didn't know the names of anything else. Had there always been this many stars in the sky? "I won't try anything," Finn continued. "Unless you want me to. Of course, if you wanted to try anything, I'd be a very willing participant. Do you want to try anything?" "I haven't decided." "Did I mention that the grass I'm lying on is soaked with dew?" he asked. "I haven't even decided if this is officially a date." "What would you call it?" "An anti-date." "I brought you flowers." "I like them. It's still an anti-date." I paused. "But I don't want you to blame me if you get sick. You can come back if you want." "You promise not to maim me?" "I promise to give fair warning before I maim you." I watched out of the corner of my eye as Finn's shape stood, walked over, and lay down two inches away from me. I could feel the heat radiating off his skin. He smelled of wet grass and sweat and soap. No body spray. "Nights like this," he said quietly, "I could look at the sky forever." I expected him to keep talking, to ramble on about the stars or his adventures as an astronaut or the time he was abducted by aliens (which I might have believed), but he just lay there, staring at the corner of the Milky Way that was smeared right above us. The layers of noise--cars on the road, distant airplanes, the farewells of crickets, the flutter of bat wings--all faded until I could hear only the sound of my heart beating in my ears, and the slow, steady rhythm of Finn's breath. Somehow my hand found its way to his. Our fingers entwined. He squeezed once and sighed. I grinned, grateful for the dark. We left about an hour later so that Finn could drive me home and get back to his house before curfew. Neither one of us had much to say. We didn't talk in the car, either, but that was easier because he turned on the radio. It felt like the time under the stars had delivered us to a new country that we didn't have the language for yet, but I didn't know what it felt like for him because I didn't have the guts to ask. I finally spoke up just before he turned into my driveway. "No," I said. "Pull up by those bushes." "You're having a party without me?" he asked. "An army buddy of my dad's is here with a bunch of guys on leave. They're headed up to the Adirondacks tomorrow." I unbuckled my seat belt and opened my door the instant he shut the engine off because I didn't know what I wanted to happen in the front seat. Well, I kind of knew, but I wasn't 100 percent sure, and it seemed like the safest course of action was to get my bike out of the backseat as soon as possible. The handlebars got caught on the coat hook above the back door, but Finn reached in and unhooked them. "Thanks." I leaned on the handlebars. "That was a . . . I had a good time." He leaned against his car. "Can we call it a date yet?" "No." "Can we call it a pretty good anti-date?" I chuckled. "Yeah." He tossed his keys up and down. "I would like to point out, for the record, that my pants remained zipped and my belt buckled for the entire evening." "Smart move on your part." I hesitated, because I wanted to kiss him and I was pretty sure he wanted to kiss me, too, but the bike was in front of me, and Finn was several steps away and then two soldiers came around the side of the house and started rummaging in the back of one of the trucks. "I better go," I said. "Are you going to be okay?" he asked. "I mean, with all those guys around and everything?" "You're the one who should be worried. You just took out the captain's daughter without his permission." -31- Dad was sitting by the bonfire in the backyard with Roy and a bunch of the others. The conversation died when I stepped into the circle of light. "Didn't mean to interrupt," I said. "Just wanted to tell you I'm home." "How was the game?" Roy asked. "We lost," I said. "But the stars were nice." "Sleep tight, princess." Dad's face was half in shadow, angular and old-looking. I wanted to sit on the ground next to him and lean against his knee and have him smooth my hair back and tell me that everything was going to be all right, but the awful thing was, I wasn't sure it could be. He was sober, still drinking soda, surrounded by guys who understood everything he'd been through, but his good mood of the afternoon had vanished. He looked lost again, haunted. One of the younger soldiers got up and offered me a chair, but I muttered a quick g'night, and hurried inside. Michael was parked in front of the television gaming with a couple of the privates, dribbling chew-stained spit into a paper cup. I went straight to my room without saying a word. Didn't bother with a shower or brushing my teeth. I locked my bedroom door, changed into my pj's, and crawled into bed with a book and my phone. Finn texted just as I got comfortable: am home you ok? yep I texted back. I waited, staring at the screen. Should I say anything else? Were we supposed to text all night long? ttyt? he asked. sure I hesitated, then held my breath and typed quickly: flowers were sweet stars spectacular thx He didn't reply and he didn't reply and he didn't reply. I smacked myself in the forehead. "Anti-date," what was that supposed to mean? He thinks I'm a nutcase now, a total crazy cakes, I said I was going to shove his nose into his brain, who says crap like that? and then my phone lit up again. nxt to you i didnt notice any stars night Excerpted from The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.