by Francisco X. Stork
First sentence: “Nana, I tried to write you in Spanish by my Espanol no es muy bueno en este momento.”
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Release date: January 26, 2016
Review copy provided by the publisher.
Content: There’s frank talk of depression and suicide, a few mild swear words, one (maybe two?) f-bombs, and some indirect drug use. Nothing too bad, though, so it’ll probably be in the YA (grades 6-8) section at the bookstore.
Vicky should have the perfect life. Her father is a high-powered Latino businessman, so she’s never wanted for anything. She goes to a high-powered private school, she has a popular boy who likes her. But. She doesn’t feel like anything’s worth living for. Her Nana is being sent back to Mexico, in spite of having been a part of the family since before Vicky was born. Vicky’s constantly being compared to her “perfect” older sister; she’s never quite good enough, smart enough, driven enough. So, one night, she decides to take her own life.
Except, it doesn’t work. She finds herself in the mental ward of a hospital, walking to a therapist and a group of other mentally ill teenagers — bi-polar, anger management, schizophrenic — wondering if there is a way to have depression rather than to be depressed.
I can’t tell you how much I loved this book. I am SO glad that there is a book out there about depression and suicide that isn’t depressing as well. Yes, Vicky is sad, a sadness that is impossibly empty, but the book itself finds hope and healing in it. Slowly, Vicky finds reasons to live, she finds her voice, she finds friends, she finds a community to connect with, and she figures out ways to deal with this depression she has. On top of that, in Stork’s hands this story — which is personal for him, since he suffers from depression as well — has a heart and soul that reached out and grabbed me. He’s so good a portraying pain, but he’s also incredible at portraying healing and friendship, all of which I needed at this point in my life.