Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Memory Bank....

When this book arrived at the library in a shipment of new books, I was drawn to the title, "The Memory Bank" by Carolyn Coman and Rob Shepperson. I was instantly intrigued. I've played around with the idea of a bank that stores memories in my writing as well. And I was interested to see how another writer imagined it. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Coman and Shepperson came up with a completely different idea from my vision of a memory bank.

The book has an interesting premise, a girl whose parents force her to leave her sister by the side of the road one day. They insist that Hope simply, "forget her." Hope is devastated after her parents refuse to go back for her sister, and takes to sleeping the entire day. Shortly after, an official letter arrives for Hope, informing her that there are problems with her memory account at the World Wide Memory Bank. A "specialist" arrives to pick her up, and thus her journey to understand the nature of memories and find her sister begins.

There were many points in this book that I found original and intriguing. For one, the book started and ended in multiple pages of wordless illustrations. While this means I finally have another book to suggest to my readers who loved The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick, it also means that the beginning and ending start in a way that leave lots of delicious room for interpretation. The pencil drawn illustrations alternate with the text through the story, and rather than telling the same story as they do in Hugo Cabret, they actually switch to Hope's sister's perspective. At the end the stories of Hope and her sister, Honey converge. This was my only problem with the book. Watching the two stories collide, was like watching the toddlers play with the trains in our library. The events collided at full speed, fell off the track and everything happened too fast for my liking. The resolution was over in a flash.

But the other delicious piece of this story, was the description of different types of memories. In the Memory Bank, not all memories were created equal, and there's a place for all of them. From the first vivid memories of babies to the final lasting memories as a person dies, all these memories take on their own personalities. The memories become almost another character. It was this unique treatment of memories that kept me interested and reading the book to the end.

The Memory Bank was a quick, enjoyable read full of interesting characters. The descriptions of memories are sure to engage imaginative readers with a mood like Roald Dahl's books. And after it's all over the book is slipped back onto the shelf? I'm sure this book will leave "an everlasting memory" in many of my reader's minds.

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