From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up—Delacre has dedicated this slim volume to "all grieving teens," and while it is published as a work of fiction, the author's note explains that her 16-year-old daughter did, in fact, die in a car accident in 2004. She relates how her mourning process involved interviewing many of Alicia's friends about their relationship with the pint-sized, exuberant Puerto Rican American. Resources on teen grief and teen-driver safety, as well as a photo of Alicia, are appended. Though the point of view shifts from chapter to chapter, the narrative begins and ends with Alicia's mother, starting with the fateful night of the teen's date with a boy who speeds, loses control, and crashes into a telephone pole, killing her instantly. The chapters that focus on her friends, including the driver who survives the crash, don't provide any kind of cohesive narrative, reporting instead memories and events that form a two-dimensional portrait of Alicia: a perfect angel of a daughter, a true and fun-loving friend, a gifted dancer, and someone who always gave more than she took. Throughout the book, faint line sketches appear like shadows beneath the text. While reading the 13 nearly indistinguishable teen accounts of Alicia might be good bibliotherapy for those who have suffered a loss, this afterimage turns into an overexposure of pain that appeals to a sense of pathos without providing satisfaction as fiction.—Suzanne Gordon, Peachtree Ridge High School, Suwanee, GA
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Delacre’s beloved 16-year-old daughter died in a car crash four years ago. In her first novel, the picture-book artist has fictionalized the words of 13 of Alicia’s real-life friends and family members, who talk about their grief and anger in a series of terse, third-person accounts. The spare interior monologues create a vivid collage portrait of the dynamic teen. The friends speak about how they met her and what they did together, from text-messaging to dancing, as well as the mementos they have of her mischief and loving support. The memories are of both small moments and big events, such as Alicia’s quinceañera. Mamá feels guilt (how does a parent balance freedom and protection?), and also anger at “The Driver,” a teen date who is never named and whose recklessness caused the crash. Every view of Alicia is perfect (“there isn’t anyone who doesn’t like her”), but idealization is part of the grieving process. With its messages about healing and a list of appended resources, this is an excellent title for grief counseling. Grades 7-12. --Hazel Rochman