Tuesday, July 9, 2013


For Hayley Kincain life has been filled with loss.  Her mother died, her grandmother died, Trish her "stepmother" left, and her father left for several tours of duty in the Middle East.  Now Hayley is seventeen and heading back to public school after years of homeschooling on the road with her father.  She isn't planning on making many connections with her teachers or fellow students.  The goal is to put in her time and try to hold things together at home.

When her father returned from his last tour, he brought with him a leg injury, a purple heart, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  An addiction to alcohol and nights interrupted by nightmares of the battlefield have kept him from holding a job.  He finally decided to try long haul trucking which resulted in Hayley traveling along for several years. 

As Hayley's senior year approached, her father made plans to move into the house where he grew up so she can attend a regular school and get the credits required to apply for college.  Hayley doesn't have high hopes for how all this will work out.  She knows her dad doesn't take his medication and most of the time refuses to kept his doctor's appointments.  Keeping an eye on him and dealing with the consequences when his PTSD takes control doesn't leave her with much energy to concentrate on school.  With the help of Gracie, a childhood friend, and an unexpected relationship with a boy named Finn, Hayley is able to muddle through her days. 

The unpredictable nature of PTSD is clearly evident in the roller coaster lifestyle of Hayley and her father.  The incredible talent of author Laurie Halse Anderson enables readers to understand the life facing many returning veterans and their families today.  She uniquely combines the devastation caused by war and the resiliency of the human spirit in her latest novel THE IMPOSSIBLE KNIFE OF MEMORY available in 2014.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Publishers at ALA 2013.)

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