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Grief Girl: My True Story Hardcover – March 13, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up—At age 14, Vincent lost both parents in a traffic accident. This is a gripping memoir of the aftermath of their deaths. Although her loss took place more than 20 years ago in Australia, her use of the present tense and a wholly authentic adolescent voice lend her retelling palpable immediacy. Gritty language, a swift pace, and glimpses of humor amid tragedy make this a page-turner. The author captivatingly portrays her journey through the stages of grief, which she aptly points out take place in no discernible order. Perhaps most poignant is the heartbreaking post-funeral abandonment of her and her siblings by adult friends and relatives. Teens will sympathize with her 18-year-old sister's anger at the crushing responsibility of parenting her younger siblings. At the same time, the author's own feelings of rejection, abandonment, and self-blame will resonate with many readers. Recommend this book to those who have experienced loss, or want to understand what a friend might be going through, as well as to teens looking for an absorbing read.—Rebecca M. Jones, Fort Myers-Lee County Library, FL
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In 1983, Vincent, then 14, lost both her parents in a road accident. In this poignant memoir, she chronicles her rocky journey through adolescence as she, her 17-year-old sister, Tracy, and their brother, Trent, learn to cope on their own. Life isn't easy for the Australian orphans: their grandparents threaten to take custody of three-year-old Trent; family friends relieve them of several pieces of furniture "for safekeeping," then refuse to return them; and the executor of their parents' will won't release any of the money held in trust, even for medical issues. Still, Vincent manages to graduate high school and pass a journalism test that wins her a newspaper job, while Tracy marries her boyfriend and moves to a new home with Trent. Vincent's use of the present tense makes the story more immediate, and although her prose is unremarkable, it aptly approximates her teenage self. Any adolescent going through the grieving process will tearfully embrace her book. Jennifer Hubert
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Series: AWARDS: High School Sequoyah Masterlist 2010
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (March 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385733534
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385733533
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,870,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Phreddy Tran on April 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a male in his thirties, I'm quite the opposite of Grief Girl's target reader, and yet I found this book thoroughly engrossing and moving. Erin Vincent adopts the perfect tone and style for Grief Girl -- descriptive enough to be literary, yet not so ornate that we lose the the voice of the young girl experiencing the trauma of losing both parents. (Vincent writes in present tense to put us in the moment, and uncannily captures what a 14-year-old sounds like.) Vincent also writes with such honesty that we can't help but feel everything she is going through. I hope more adults take the opportunity to read Grief Girl -- go ahead, you can let your teenage daughter read it when you're done.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kelly Herold on March 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
"grief girl" is a memoir that reads like a YA problem novel. The narrator/author is fourteen years old when the unthinkable happens. Her beloved mother dies in a car crash and her father is severely injured. A month later, Erin's father dies from a blood clot to the heart.

Erin is the middle child, and much of her struggle after her parents' death results from her powerlessness. Older sister Tracy turns eighteen just days after their mother dies. She has already left school (grief girl is set in Australia) and begun a training program in cosmetology. Tracy has a steady boyfriend--a solid guy named Chris--and she assumes full responsibility for Erin and their much younger brother, Trent. As is only natural, she tries to shield Erin and Trent from responsibility, but is also angry that everything fell to her.

What I most appreciated about "grief girl" is its honesty. Vincent asks brutal questions, even if they don't have an answer and, in fact, reflect badly on her. Before her parents' death, Erin imagines the following scene while rehearsing a play with her theater group:

"I'll be sitting in this same chair a week from today and Mum and Dad will be gone. Tragedy will strike. Life will be ruined, changed forever. But the show must go on. I'll have to struggle on without them. I'll be up onstage rehearsing through the pain and everyone will think I'm noble and brave. Most people, if their parents died, would never be able to perform...but not me. I'm amazing and strong. It will be the best performance of my life. Everyone will say, 'Look at her! Isn't she incredible? A true star.'" (30-31)

Erin is not always likable as she narrates her story. While in school she becomes absorbed in her grief and it defines her. She wears her father's shirt for months on end.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Tracy Barrett on August 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The death of Erin Vincent's parents, as chronicled in her memoir GRIEF GIRL, threw her into a kind of adolescent nightmare. Everything about being an early teen was heightened. Most 14-year-olds forget to vacuum but when Erin leaves the house a mess she risks her older sister's losing custody of their baby brother. Juggling school and a job is difficult but if Erin gets fired her family loses an important source of income. Arguing with her older and responsible (but still teenage) sister is like taking on her sister and your mother at once. Her monstrous grandparents are no longer an inconvenience and an embarrassment but a real threat as they try to weasel little Trent (one of the most loving portraits of a sibling I can remember reading) from his sisters' control. The feeling that everyone is looking at you is heightened because, well, everyone is looking at you, the grief girl. And how do you deal with having fantasized about your parents' death when they actually die?

Erin Vincent unflinchingly records her ambivalent feelings about her parents, who were loving but flawed. She talks about her flirtation with religion, her relationships with her teachers, her confusion, her friendships. Her raw grief and anger predominate but the humor and warmth keep this from being a dismal read. The one thing it never is, is self-pitying.

Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on April 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In this heartbreaking yet uplifting memoir, Erin Vincent recounts the tragedy of losing both of her parents in a terrible car accident when she was fourteen. What makes the story so sad, at least for me, was that fact that her father, unlike her mother, was not killed instantly in the crash, but survived for a number of weeks before succumbing to his injuries. For me, this fact made Ms. Vincent's story even more difficult, as it felt like hope had left her family for good.

"They say God is a comfort to all those who mourn. How can you be a comfort to those you've made suffer? What manipulation! It's like having your wounds dressed by the person who hurt you...No, sorry, you're a bit late, God."

For Erin, it takes awhile to realize that wishing something bad would happen to your parents is not the same as killing them. It doesn't take long, though, to realize that her horrible extended family - her father's parents and her mother's wretched brothers - are up to no good. With only her older sister, Tracy, and Tracy's boyfriend, Chris, to watch our for Erin and her younger brother, Trent, things are not going to get easier in a hurry.

As life goes on - Erin returns to school, she watches as both her mother and father are buried, she goes on a trip with her theater group - she realizes that life cannot be categorized as either good or bad, but rather is a series of ups and downs, of highs and lows. As Erin leans on her best girlfriend, as the only true friends of her parents help out her beleaguered "family" when they need help, she learns that life does go on, whether you want it to or not.

The wonderful thing about GRIEF GIRL is that Ms. Vincent never comes across as pitiful, although it would be easy to pity a girl who lost both of her parents.
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