YA Literary Trope: The Buried Memories

Welcome back readers! We are wrapping up our on-going discussion of literary tropes: common recurring themes found in YA literature.  So far we have examined The Old Clunker I Drive, The I Already Know you Introduction, The I Have to Take Care of my Parent(s), The Manic Pixie Dream Girl (and Boy), the A-Hole Friends, the Awesome Outfit, The Repressed Protagonist , and The Goofball Best Friend.  All good things come to an end.  But before we say goodbye to these weekly tropes, let us not forget: The Buried Memories. BEWARE, SPOILERS AHEAD!

YA Literary Tropes The Buried Memories YALSA the hub

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.  Cady has always spent her summers on the private island off the coast near Cape Cod with her wealthy family plus a “special” family friend.  But something happened two summers ago– and Cady cannot remember.  According to her mother, Cady has been told the truth of what happened that night over and over, and everytime she forgets again.   So, she returns to the island to try to dig up her memories.  No matter how many times I re-read this fantastic tale, I cannot help the shock I feel when Cady remembers the truth.

Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black.  Hazel and Ben grew up in Fairfold; a small town like many others.  Except for the Fairies, they live there too.  Oh, and there is a boy encapsulated in time asleep in a glass coffin in the woods.  Usually the humans and the others live in symbiosis in Fairfold.  But there are attacks. There are unexplained disappearances.  When the siblings were younger, Hazel toted a antique sword and pretended to be a Knight while Ben played his flute and “enchanted” the monsters.  But something happened, and now Hazel is just an average girl and Ben never plays music anymore.  Hazel navigates her way through the murkiness of fairy rules and memories taken from her, and what she learns is shocking.

Charm & Strange (2014 Morris Award Winner) by Stephanie Kuehn.  Win knows that there is something different about him.  He feels it most when there is a full moon.  Sent away to a boarding school in Vermont, Win does not trust himself to deal with his current fears and sift through reality.  But the boy recalls when he was Drew; a championship tennis player with a violent temper.  This is a psychologically suspenseful tale told by one of the most unreliable of narrators.  Do not trust.

Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson.  Emily Bird was the good girl, she always did what was expected of her, had the proper friends, the perfect boyfriend, and the right groomed look.  But when a trusted authority doses Emily with a powerful drug intended to carve out a memory of something she was not supposed to see, she becomes “Bird”– the girl who dates the school drug-dealer, who finds new friends, and allows her hair to go natural.  But in the near-future Apocalyptic version of Washington, DC uncovering lost memories does not prove simple.

Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver.  Nick was always the more responsible sister.  Dara was the younger, wild, and beautiful one.  But the two were best friends.  After a dangerous car crash, the sisters and their relationship were forever changed.  Now, years later, Dara has been missing for days.   When a younger girl in town also disappears, Nick starts to worry.  An investigation of the seedier parts of town leads Nick to find things perhaps best left uncovered.

Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee. Rose is the perpetual new girl.  When she and her father move yet again to a small town in Australia, Rose is surprised that outgoing, popular, and beautiful Pearl wants to be friends with her.  An annual tradition draws near, where the girls in town dress up for a Harvest celebration.  Pearl encourages Rose to join in and get a dress made by a local seamstress.  But the dress is more than a dress and on a magical night the two girls are changed irrevocably.  This is a mystery which starts at the end and ends at the start.  And what is revealed in between will shock and amaze you.  Chilling, charming, and utterly unique.

Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma.  Chloe’s older sister Ruby is the girl everyone wants to be; and be with.  The girls’ mother is a negligent alcoholic and Ruby practically raised Chloe.  One night at a party at the reservoir, Chloe jumps into the water on a dare. The prank turns deadly when Chloe bumps into the floating corpse of London: a girl who sits near her in class.  Devastated, Chloe is sent away to live with her father.  Ruby comes a few years later to “rescue” her and Chloe returns to her home town.  But somehow, London is alive and well and hanging out at parties. This twisted story is fairy-tale-like as it’s truths unravel.

Any other buried memory tropes out there?  I am wondering why all seven authors are female– is this a feminine trope?  Where are the dudes?  Thank you for joining in this weekly adventure into YA literary tropes!

-Tara Kehoe

Currently reading: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon