I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. The scheduled publication date for this book is July 5, 2016.
Sammie was always a girl with a plan: graduate at the top of her class and get out of her small town as soon as humanly possible. Nothing will stand in her way--not even a rare genetic disorder the doctors say will slowly start to steal her memories and then her health. 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. It's where she'll record every perfect detail of her first date with longtime crush, Stuart--a brilliant young writer who is home for the summer. And where she'll admit how much she's missed her childhood best friend, Cooper, and even take some of the blame for the fight that ended their friendship. 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.
I really needed this book. It seems like every book I have been reading lately has been mediocre or just blah. I needed a book that made me feel and this was it. First of all, I had to look up the disease that Sammie suffers from and it's real. I guess I was hoping it was fictional because of everything Sammie had to go through. One day Sammie is working towards being a valedictorian and practicing for debate tournaments; the next day, she receives a diagnosis that changes everything. She has NPC, a genetic disease that will slowly eat away at her body and will cause her to forget everything and everyone. I can't even imagine what it must be like to be seventeen and to know that you may soon forget everyone you know.
This entire book is written kind of as a letter or journal. It's Sammie writing to herself so that she can look back and remember things. At first, this letter format kind of got in the way of connecting with Sammie, but I think that's because Sammie wasn't feeling a whole lot at first. I mean, yeah she was angry and upset that this was happening. But she was also in major denial. She still thought she could move away and go to college at NYU and become a lawyer. Sammie was a rare case because she didn't start manifesting symptoms until she was seventeen and apparently, that is a lot older than people usually are when they are diagnosed. Maybe it was because she didn't even get sick until later than the usual patient, but she thought she was different from so many other patients. God, I loved this girl's determination. She was so focused and she didn't want to let ANYTHING get in the way of her plans. I hated watching it in a way because I had a feeling I knew it would end badly. And when she did have an episode where she forgot something, I hurt for her.
Sammie's family was so damn awesome. I don't say that much, but I will say that about this one. Her parents were supportive and yet they were afraid. They wanted her to live her life, but they were terrified she would forget where she was in the middle of crossing a street or something. I loved how they tried to encourage her, even though they weren't as optimistic as Sammie was. And Sammie's siblings were so freaking adorable. I wish they had showed them more, but I loved the way Sammie talked about them in her memory book. I absolutely loved the friendship between Cooper and Sammie and I wanted more between them. Sammie had started dating a guy she had been crushing on forever (Stuart) and even though he was really sweet, I didn't like him for her nearly as much as Cooper.
One thing that bugged me was Sammie's friend, Maddie. Sammie didn't tell her or anyone else about her illness for a long time because she didn't want to be treated differently. I get that. When Sammie finally told her, Maddie acted awful. Maddie said she couldn't handle her being sick and that Sammie was selfish for telling her when she did and that Sammie was using her. Maddie made Sammie's illness all about her and she didn't even try to understand why Sammie wouldn't want to advertise it. They eventually made up, but I never really forgave Maddie for that.
This book was so incredibly heartbreaking. I know I said that it was a bit hard to relate to Sammie in the beginning with the format, but it didn't take long to fall in love with her. And the format ended up working REALLY well when Sammie's disease started progressing. You could tell by the lack of formatting that things were getting worse. By the end of the book, I was crying. Yeah, I was up at 4:00am reading this book and trying not to let my crying wake my husband. Not the first time. This book was heartbreaking and emotional, but is WORTH READING! I loved every word.
Buy/Borrow/Skip: Buy this one!!