I’ve only read one other book by Laurie Halse Anderson (Speak), but this woman definitely knows how to write effective, moving YA. I feel the need to go get everything she’s ever written after finishing The Impossible Knife of Memory.
“Leaning against my father, the sadness finally broke open inside me, hollowing out my heart and leaving me bleeding. My feet felt rooted in the dirt. There were more than two bodies buried here. Pieces of me that I didn’t even know were under the ground. Pieces of dad, too.”
Hayley Kincaid has had an unconventional childhood — raised mostly by a stepmother while her father Andy served in the army, Hayley’s world was torn apart a few years ago when Andy returned, and her stepmother walked out. After that, Hayley and her father spent several years on the road, as he tried to make a living as a truck driver. But now Andy has moved them back to his hometown so Hayley can attend high school. While he suffers at home with PTSD, trying to drink away the demons, Hayley is trying to figure out how to assimilate into high school culture — while dealing with emotional issues of her own.
The romance-y part of the story, between Hayley and Finn (“the hot guy”), is good — he’s a well written character, and you can see why they like each other (even though it takes them a while to figure out how). But the relationship between Hayley and Andy, and the horrors of PTSD (and how it affects HER in addition to him), really make this book stand out.