Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Health
Release Date: January 26th 2017
Buy The Book: Book Depository
Samantha McCoy has it all mapped out. First she's going to win the national debating championship, then she's going to move to New York and become a human rights lawyer. But when Sammie discovers that a rare disease is going to take away her memory, the future she'd planned so perfectly is derailed before it’s started. What she needs is a new plan.
So the Memory Book is born: Sammie’s notes to her future self, a document of moments great and small. Realising that her life won't wait to be lived, she sets out on a summer of firsts: The first party; The first rebellion; The first friendship; The last love.
Through a mix of heartfelt journal entries, mementos, and guest posts from friends and family, readers will fall in love with Sammie, a brave and remarkable girl who learns to live and love life fully, even though it's not the life she planned.
Before reading The Memory Book, I'm afraid to say I'd never heard of Niemann-Pick Type C. It is a rare type of dementia that affects younger people, usually children. But seveteen-year-old Sam is a special case as her diagnosis comes a lot later than what is typical. Her dream for after high school is to attend NYU, and she stays focused on that goal even her family and doctors try to dissuade her. Sam starts typing up her memories on the computer for future Sam to read back later.
What I really respected about this story was that despite the subject matter, it wasn't a sad read. Yes, there were heartbreaking moments, as there would be for anyone facing a life cut short because of illness, but Sam had a fantastic attitude about the whole situation from start to finish. She was determined to continue living her life the way she planned, regardless of what challenges her illness threw at her.
Whilst the story itself was a difficult but touching subject, I found myself disappointed in the romance. Sam has had a crush on Stuart for years, and now he's back in town after being at NYU. When they go to the same party, they finally start talking, and it turns into something more. Towards the end of the book, there is even a bit of a love triangle. This side of the story didn't appeal to me, and I was much more interested in Sam dealing with her illness, and her relationship with her family and best friend Maddie than I was in the romance. Maddie was an awesome character and I wish the story had given us more moments between her and Sam because I felt as though their friendship could have been expanded more. I'd have also liked to have seen more of Sam's siblings.
The Niemann-Pick Type C itself was heartbreaking to see progress throughout the book, especially when sam ends up having more episodes of memory loss. Her sudden confusion in her entries are actually quite chilling because it shows us just have terrifying it must feel to be in that situation. I'm grateful that books like this exist so that readers can become more aware of rare illnesses such as this one.
The Memory Book was a bit of a mixed-bag for me. Whilst I loved the importance of the story and the message it held, there were parts of the story that felt a little forced and stereotypical. But I was still able to enjoy the story as a whole, and I appreciate that it made me aware of Niemann-Pick Type C. I'm always grateful to stories like this that shine a light on conditions less known to the general public.