As the war on terror continued through the first part of the new century, another battle arose in America. It came with returning veterans from wars overseas.
Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, has become a well-known side effect of deployment over the past decade.
The prevalence of cases caused the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to set up an entire website dedicated to the issue.
It also inspired best-selling author Laurie Halse-Anderson to address the topic in her latest novel, “The Impossible Knife of Memory.”
The book will be released on Jan. 7, the same day that the author will visit South Kitsap High School as part of a West Sound Reads event.
“When I visit high schools, I always talk about my own meandering educational path,” Halse-Anderson said. “I needed extra help to learn how to read in elementary school. By the time I made it to high school, the challenges facing my family diverted my attention. None of my teachers
expected me to amount to much.”
She enjoys telling
students about her journey through educational challenges, working through college, going to Georgetown University, and becoming an author.
She will also discuss her latest novel. “The Impossible Knife of Memory” follows teenager Haley Kincaid and her father, Andy, an Iraq war veteran. The two decide to settle in Andy’s hometown, but the memories of war settle with them. Haley is torn between taking care of her father and being a teenager.
While the issue of PTSD has become more well-known in recent time, it is a subject that the author has been aware of for many years.
“My father is a World War II vet who, at age 18, was one of the soldiers who took care of the victims of Dachau, a Nazi concentration camp,” she said. “My father’s war experiences haunt him [to] this day. When I was a teen, Dad’s PTSD took over. He lost his job and we were afraid for years that he would take his own life.
“I know what it feels like to love a parent who is in emotional torment. I know that countless American teens are dealing with the same experience and I wanted to write about it for them.”
Halse-Anderson is known for her previous young adult works such as “Speak” and “Wintergirls.” Past novels have addressed other sensitive topics that young adults face such as anorexia, rape and masculinity.
Her 1999 novel “Speak” was turned into a 2005 independent film starring Kristen Stewart.
West Sound Reads is a collaboration between the Kitsap Regional Library and independent bookstores in the county, including Eagle Harbor Book Co. on Bainbridge Island and Liberty Bay Books in Poulsbo, which have sponsored Halse-Anderson’s visit. The purpose of the effort is to bring renowned authors to Kitsap audiences.
What: West Sound Reads presents author Laurie Halse-Anderson
When: Jan. 7 at 7 p.m.
Where: South Kitsap High School, 425 Mitchell Ave., Port Orchard