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Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora's brain took with it her ability to make new memories.
That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend's boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora's fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.
With little more than the words "be brave" inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must "be brave" if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.
Audiobook Received for Review in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Man oh man, I don’t even know where to start with this book. I love stories that deal with memory loss so this is what initially caught my eye for this book. A girl who suffers from short-term memory and doesn’t remember anything more than a few hours was different from my usual memory loss stories. Flora Banks had a brain tumor at 10 years old and when the doctors successfully removed it, some part of her brain was affected and she forgets everything after a few hours. She remembers everything from before she was 10 years old, but anything after that she has to be constantly reminded every day. She knows who her parents and best friend, Paige, are because those are memories from before the tumor, but everything else she has to read this book every morning that tells her what happened to her and other basic details. She also writes things down from the day before on her hands and arms to help her remember the next day. Although Flora is 17 years old, technically she has the mental age of a 10-year-old. She has to keep reminding herself that she is 17 and not 10 years old and the way she talks (and acts) is like a child. You know how in Finding Dory you can’t help but feel a little bit frustrated with Dory because she keeps forgetting things and she will repeat certain things over and over but you can’t help but love her anyway because the character ad story are so good? Yeah, that’s not the case with Flora. Because Flora forgets everything, she repeats certain things over and over which gets very annoying, very quickly. Every time I heard her say ‘I kissed Drake on the beach’ it made me want to delete the book from my phone.
After a party, Flora wanders to the beach and sees her best friend’s boyfriend, Drake. They start talking and one thing leads to another and they end up kissing. Drake even asks Flora if he wants to spend the night with him and Flora’s first thought is of her mommy and how mad she would be if she didn’t come home for the night. Let that sink in for a bit, this guy kisses his girlfriend’s best friend who he knows will most likely not remember anything the next day but who still has a child-like mental age where her first thought is her mother when a boy asks her to spend the night with him. Luckily, Drake backs off at this point. Flora decides to write this memory of kissing Drake on her hand because she doesn’t want to forget it. The next day, she is shocked to find out that she remember every detail of that kiss, her first true memory since the operation. Unfortunately, Paige sees this on her hand and is furious at Flora for what she did. Paige had promised Flora’s parents that she would stay with Flora and take care for her while they visited another country to stay with Flora’s brother who is dying, but since she’s mad at Flora she won’t do it anymore. Instead of telling her parents that Paige won’t be staying with her, she keeps that from them and they leave her alone. I found it very shitty of a supposed best friend to do this to someone like Flora who isn’t all that capable of taking care of herself and I fund it unbelievable of Flora’s parents to not even bother to check in with Paige to see how their daughter was doing. Unfortunately the rest of the book only goes downhill from here…
Flora gets in touch with Drake over email and they start exchanging some pretty racy emails where Drake tells her in detail what he’d like to do with her and even asks for naked pictures of Flora. Let me remind you that although Flora is technically 17, SHE HAS THE MIND OF A CHILD! I was so grossed out by this and annoyed that this would even make it into the book. Flora decides that since this is the first real memory she has after the tumor that she must go to the freaking north pole to find Drake so they can be together. Never mind that her brother is dying, which she knows, she decides to visit some guy in another country instead of her brother. Because she’s Flora, one of those magical MC’s, everyone in the new town loves her and they help her find Drake. I doubt someone who can’t remember anything more than a few hours would be able to survive in a new strange on their own and even less that she would befriend all the locals. It takes her a while to find Drake and an even longer time for her parents to even find out that she isn’t at home.
At this point, I was already super annoyed with this book, but when I found out that View Spoiler » Flora never had a tumor or operation and that her and her brother were in a car accident when she was 10, I was done with the book. Turns out, Flora’s parents felt so guilty about the car accident that they kept drugging Flora to keep her compliant. They couldn’t risk losing her so they were drugging her instead and the dad just went along with it. Supposedly, her brother (who ends up dying and no Flora never did get a chance to see him cause she was off looking for Drake instead) was against it and that’s why he left. When her parents finally get Flora home, they must up her dosage cause she is an even more zombie like state. Paige, who never even apologized for ditching Flora ends up helping her by replacing her meds with placebos and takes her to see a specialist. And this is how the book ends. We don’t really know what happened to Flora after or her parents or if she even confronted them or if they even apologized. « Hide Spoiler I’ve read a lot of great books, a lot of okay and mediocre books and unfortunately I’ve read some not so great ones too. But never before has a book made me so angry (other than November 9, ugh) before. I had to keep listening to see if there was any way to save this book. What made me even more mad was the fact that not only was the fact that Drake was taking advantage of an ill girl never addressed, it didn’t seem to be a problem with most other readers. I read so many reviews for this book and some people loved it and others hated it but other than 2 people, nobody else had a problem with it. Clearly this book wasn’t for me and although I think others would enjoy a book even if I didn’t, I just can’t even recommend this one to anyone…
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