Sunday, September 1, 2013

Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia by Jenny Torres Sanchez

Frenchie Garcia is seriously depressed.  Her best friend, Joel, has a new girlfriend that seems to be the center of his world.  She lives near a cemetery and is faced daily with hearses and the dead.  Her favorite place to hang out is in the same cemetery at the grave of Emily Dickenson.  No, not that one.  She is buried in Amherst.  Just someone who had the same name as her favorite poet.  But, Frenchie’s real problem is much more serious than just teenage moodiness.  Frenchie is dealing with the effects of a friend’s suicide and trying to find way to move past it.  In Death, Dickenson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia, Jenny Torres Sanchez tackles the subject of teen suicide, friendship, and the pain of existence in this young touching young adult novel.

Frenchie had only one night with Andy, as they travelled through town discussing life, philosophy, and the world.  As they went from destination to destination, Andy espoused his ideas about the way of the world.  And though, Frenchie is attracted to Andy, that is not what this night is about.  It is more about listening to Andy and his thoughts about everything from the inevitability of death to the moral uncertainty of life. When that night culminates in Andy’s death, Frenchie is devastated.  Since she had not had a connection with Andy before that night, Frenchie grieves alone and wonders what she could have done to prevent the sad ending of Andy’s life.

I found the depth of this book refreshing.  It does not shy away from the philosophical questions of life or the devastation of grief.  Though Frenchie is depressed for most of the book, she seems relatable and real.  She fights with her friends, she feels butterflies for new guy, she gets jealous.  Her grief is well written and not maudlin or manipulative.  She is someone you would like to know.  The supporting characters in this novel are also well written.

This book is quieter than the typical teen flashy novel that seems to be the primary output of young adult novelists these days.  But, it is a sensitive portrayal of a topic that deserves attention.  There were some situations and language that make the book inappropriate for younger teens, but for older ones, Death, Dickenson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia, is a treasure.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Regina

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The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?" and sometimes he thought, "Inasmuch as which?" and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about.

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