The Memory Book by Lara Avery

The Blurb On The Back:

Sam McCoy is 17.

Sam McCoy was going to be someone – and then she became ill.

Now, she must figure out who she is …  

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

17-year-old Sam McCoy has big plans for her future: she’s going to win the National Debate Tournament with her partner, Maddie, graduate as valedictorian, study at New York University and eventually become a high-powered lawyer.  There’s only one problem: she’s recently been diagnosed with Niemann-Pick Type C (NPC) – a rare genetic and terminal disorder with symptoms including tremors, palsy, and progressive dementia and memory loss.  Sam’s luckier than many – the disease has manifested in her later than it does many other sufferers – but even though everyone tells her that she needs to change her plans, she doesn’t see why she should have to – especially not when Stuart Shah (the boy she crushed on) returns to their home town and she sees herself as having a second chance …

Lara Avery’s YA contemporary “sick fic” novel is a slick read with a good first person voice but I never connected with Sam and had difficulty believing in her reaction to her disease while the inevitable YA love triangle is both heavily telegraphed and has an icky vibe given the symptoms of NPC and I also didn’t like the sentiment that Sam’s ambition had made her selfish and was in some way a bad thing.

Avery gives Sam a strong first person voice and I believed in her dreams for the future and liked how hard she worked to achieve them (which is part of the reason why I disliked the later message that she’d been selfish in trying to achieve it) but I wished that there’d been more of a development of her relationship with Maddie (which basically disappears in the final quarter).  My main concern though was that while there’s a lot of Sam’s intellectual reaction to her condition there’s little emotional reaction at all, which for me was all the more striking for those moments when she starts to forget and she never really seems to engage with NPC or its effects.  This is also striking when it comes to the romance with Simon and then the re-sparking of her friendship with Cooper (the pot-smoking boy next door) because neither discuss their feelings when she starts to succumb to the disease, which made the romance seem a little icky and exploitative for me – especially a sex scene.

Ultimately, I didn’t connect with this book but I would check out Avery’s other work.

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

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