This was both an easy and difficult review to write. You ever read a book that fills you with so many thoughts and feels that it would be impossible to get them all down? Yeah. It was one of those…
The thing about this book is that I was TERRIFIED of it. And it’s for one simple reason:
Emily Barr was my MA supervisor at Falmouth University.
Naturally I would never let that colour the way I read or reviewed something, but imagine the total awkwardness if Flora Banks wasn’t for me. It would be awks enough if I thought it simply middle of the road.
But everyone can breathe a massive sigh of relief because I’m telling you, Flora Banks is an absolute wonder and I can feel proud to boast that the brilliant woman that wrote it guided me in my own writing endeavours too. Serious pride. And love. And AWE!
What really works in this book?
The writing style – It actually took me a few pages to really “get” it. To accept the very different tone and perspective that Flora adopts. She has amnesia, a very severe kind that causes her brain to reset pretty much on a daily basis. This means that as a first person narrator she repeats a lot of stuff.
Now this is where it gets clever. Not once did I find myself becoming bored or frustrated at these repetitions. It is all written in a way that it feels new, the same way it must feel new to Flora, as she learns about her current self over and over.
Flora – I think because I’ve worked previously for quite some time in the care sector, and I’ve seen vulnerable young adults like Flora, met them and worked with them, that there was something about Flora that struck a deep chord in me. The whole way through I had this niggling feeling that she wasn’t quote getting the support she needed… AND OMIGOSH I cannot really say much more because SPOILERS!
Romance – It’s set up like a romance. And you feel like there’s a romance. But there isn’t really. Not in the way that you normally experience romantic relationships in contemporary YA. Again, astute writing at work here.
Setting – For one, it’s set in a place I know very well. Cornwall. Penzance. And on the one hand it was a little strange because I do know it that well. But it was also so authentic to the place while also creating new within it and I really appreciated that duality.
As for the Arctic? When can I go? This has given me some SERIOUS wanderlust.
Plot – Oh this is one tricksy little plot. It feels like you should have reached the climax, the big reveal, and then it continues and things start getting wrapped up AND THEN IT HITS YOU AGAIN! I can’t even.
Feels – All I will say, for fear of giving too much away, is that Flora’s interactions with her brother made me cry. Legitimate blobs of water came out of my eyes and this NEVER happens. You’ve more chance of seeing a unicorn fart rainbows than me crying at a book, but Emily Barr made the impossible happen.
Intelligent, addictive writing. A story that will leave key moments lodged in your memory as much as they are in Flora’s. An easy 5/5.