ARC Review: The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr
Advanced Reader Copy, 304 pages
May 2nd, 2017
My rating 1 out of 5 stars

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.

My thoughts… **spoilers**

Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory, she is only able to retain information from one hour to three hours. Flora always has a notebook with her so that she can write down reminders of events and information she needs to know when her memory resets. Flora also writes short notes on her arm and has a tattoo reminding her to be brave. When her memory resets she is once again the ten-year-old girl she used to be, until she reads her arm.

I didn’t care for the repetitiveness of Flora having to continually be reminded of basic information about herself. I understand Flora has no short-term memory, as the reader I have no memory difficulties and I felt irritated that I had to be continually reminded also.

The story opens with Flora attending the going away party for Drake, her best friends (Paige) boyfriend. After Drake gives his going away speech, Flora slips out through the side door. She finds herself standing in the middle of the road, it’s night and she is trying to work things out. She shouldn’t be alone, she starts to panic and wants her mom. She looks at her arm “Flora, be brave.”  Flora makes her way to the sea, she sits to watch the water and shortly after Drake approaches her and he must remind Flora who he is. They have a short conversation, he holds her hand and leans in to kiss her and the rest of world vanishes for Flora. 

“Look. Do you want to go somewhere with me? Like, now? We could spend the night…”

I instantly hated Drake. Drake knows of her condition, yet still kisses her and asks her to spend the night, come on really. Flora falls in insta-love with Drake, since she basically has the mind of and behaves like a ten-year-old I can understand how she felt that way. Somehow, kissing Drake triggers something and she can remember the time she spent with him on the beach.

“I can say this, because like, what the hell? You won’t remember anyway. I would be, like, out at a bar with you and Paige and looking at you, all pretty and blond and different from every other girl in the world, and wondering what it would be like to be with you.”

My son is the same age as Drake, nineteen, and I don’t think I ever heard him say “like” in the middle of a sentence. I didn’t care for the writing style, it reads more middle grade than young adult.

Floras parents leave her in the care of Paige when they leave for Paris to be with her dying brother Jacob. Paige is angry with Flora because she discovers that Flora kissed her boyfriend. She tells Flora that she is no longer her friend and leaves her a note saying not to call her ever again. Unknown to Floras parents, Flora is left home alone without any supervision to fend for herself. Flora begins corresponding with Drake through email, they confess their love for one another. One day she receives an email from Drake;

“We both got carried away, and I think we need to cool it off, because this can’t work from this distance, and you can’t come over here, can you?  I’m happy you remembered our time together.  That means the world.  Let’s leave it at that. Sorry for everything. Love, Drake”

This sends Flora on a daring adventure to Svalbard to find Drake. Which I found totally unbelievable that someone with no short-term memory could make reservations and travel by train and airplane to another part of the world without an issue.

I really wished that the book went into more detail about her brother Jacob, he had such a huge impact on Floras story. She discovers the truth from Jacob of her never having a brain tumor, why her mother is overprotective of her and why her mother is drugging her to keep her compliant.

This book just wasn’t for me. Thank you, Penguin Teen, for the arc of The One Memory of Flora Banks.  Happy reading - J 


  1. I had a copy of this one from First to Read but didn't put it at the top of my list because I saw how many mixed reviews it has been getting. I hope your next read it better!

  2. I have never visited First to Read, but I do see a lot of bloggers mention it. Have a wonderful week Carole.