The Memory Book by Lara Avery.  

No one knows when we will die, but people can estimate the loss of life. There is a difference here. Sammie, a top scholar high school student has been diagnosed with an illness that will continue to make her memory dissipate. Her way of living will go first then eventually the rare genetic disorder will latch to her health and ability to stay alive. Sammie has a plan to live though. “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist.”

Sammie’s mind is basically betraying her and we get to look inside of her head as she pours her words on to a “.doc file, not a journal or diary”. As she grows with the disease it is as though she is dying by living. Every step throughout the story she learns about herself. Sammie finds her first love. She makes friendships. And she continues to write for the future self she hopes will be alive to read this.

Sammie’s story from a teenagers perspective in the modern world is very relatable. Whilst every teenager has all these things that happen to them at school or within sport or their academic successes for some reason there is just this back story to go with it. These are personal challenges that often go unnoticed as they are behind the scenes in our lives.  The challenges affect us both positively and negatively. In this case, Sammie is unlucky to have a negatively affecting personal challenge . She is ill but she tries her best to flip the negatives to positives and find the meaning of happiness throughout her current situation. The novel is written in that it represents life and discovery not tragedy. Myself and many other teenagers will know the consequences of having so much present in our lives. It can be tough when the unexpected happens but when we have faith and try to be strong good things happen.  For Sammie she found her first love. Along her bumpy road Sammie also had much support from friends and family. We will never go alone in a world as big as this one. Whilst others may not be able to fix the problem for you they are there to help you, they are there to stand by your side. Sammie’s parents were detrimental in her life to helping her over come the negativity of having this disease. Parents will always be there children rocks no matter how hard a task may be. We can learn from Sammie that even though we want to be tough it is okay to ask for help. A trend is beginning where problems are being talked about publicly such as mental health disorders like depression or anxiety. Sammie finds herself talking about life and its current struggles to a teacher, just like many people we always find ourselves another person to have this bond and share the feelings and emotions we have. Schools are now set up with permanent guidance counsellors and people that want to help. Sometimes we may have to look no further than a friend. It is okay to acknowledge when we need a helping hand. 

A time will come for us in life where the end of all exploring happens. Sammie doesn’t want to think about the end. Her days of discovery may stop some time soon but what she has now is more important for where ever her soul travels next it will be taken care of. Sammie reminds me of my grandmother. I lost her touch, her cuddles, her smell, her voice. We as a family lost one of the greatest women in our lives at the beginning of the year 2018. Just like Sammie she was told that her illness will take her life in only a matter of months. The best thing for Nana was she knew she had seen multiple grandchildren grow up, her own children succeed and had married the man she had loved from age 21. She was a women that had  dedicated her time for others. Nana was sure that even if her exploring came to an end the next day that she had done enough, she had seen a world she loved. Sammie realised that she must make each day worth living and so she did. She made it her goal to write her story which is something that she enjoyed doing and to find the things that made her happy. I feel that I can learn from my Nana who achieved so many things and was satisfied by her lungful life. We can also learn from Sammie that enjoying the small things and the big things in life will make us happy. It will satisfy us. Ever thought about the long summer days when you just get to have fun all day or the cold winter nights watching movies with your sibling or friend? Whatever it may be there will always be something that you haven’t done in ages and have the need to get your “fix”. Its those things you appreciate. Often when you do not have something you realise how much you miss or value it. So Sammie makes us understand that we should value and appreciate everything we have because we may never know when it is gone. 

The Memory Book, by Lara Avery is a really enjoyable novel. I feel that this compelling story of life challenges is relatable for many people, especially teenagers.  “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist” this unknown quote perfectly describes what this book teaches us. No matter what happens we must find the happiness, the good, and the appreciation of life even through hardship. 

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  1. Hi Madi. There are some valuable examples used in this last response, however I do think that you could develop your final judgments about what you as the reader have learned from this text. Consider how you could further validate your findings 🙂


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