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The Memory of Light Paperback – August 29, 2017
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—After attempting to commit suicide in her bedroom, Vicky Cruz wakes up in the psychiatric wing of the hospital. Exhausted and nearly catatonic, Vicky goes through the motions asked of her by the quiet but firm Dr. Desai while intending to stay only the mandatory time before going home to try again. After attending group therapy with the other three young people on the ward—her energetic roommate Mona, intimidating E.M., and angelic Gabriel, however, Vicky accepts Dr. Desai's help in convincing her domineering father to let her stay. As Vicky begins intensive treatment, things start to look up, but the looming question of whether she and her friends can survive in the outside world remains. Stork's latest starts slow, with a cold, dry tone that mirrors Vicky's own emotional depletion. As the new environment and people begin to reach Vicky, however, the prose follows suit, growing smoothly into a warm and powerful tone. Unlike many novels about teens and suicide, this work focuses entirely on recovery. Vicky is dealing with a deep depression born from her mother's death and learns not only to name her illness but to cope with the effects and stand up for her needs. Stork's depiction of depression deftly avoids the traps of preaching or romanticizing and instead is accurate, heartbreaking, and hopeful. VERDICT A beautiful read that adds essential depth to the discussion of teens and mental illness.—Amy Diegelman, Vineyard Haven Public Library, MA --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
* "Stork further marks himself as a major voice in teen literature by delivering one of his richest and most emotionally charged novels yet." -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review
* "Stork writes sensitively about Vicky's journey from near death to shaky recovery . . . . A subject that needs the discussion Stork's potent novel can readily provide." -- Publishers Weekly, starred review
* "Accurate, heartbreaking, and hopeful . . . . A beautiful read." -- School Library Journal, starred review
* "Undeniable emotional strength and an encouraging, compassionate message. Stork writes his characters with authenticity and respect . . . . Highly rewarding." -- Booklist, starred review
Praise for Marcelo in the Real World:
"[A] brisk, brilliant, unsentimental novel." -- Robert Lipsyte, New York Times Book Review
* "Stork introduces ethical dilemmas, the possibility of love, and other 'real world' conflicts, all the while preserving the integrity of his characterizations and intensifying the novel's psychological and emotional stakes. Not to be missed." -- Publishers Weekly, starred review
* "It is the rare novel that reaffirms a belief in goodness; rarer still is one that does so this emphatically." -- The Horn Book Magazine, starred review
Praise for The Last Summer of the Death Warriors:
* "Stork's latest marks him as one of the most promising young adult authors of the new decade." -- The Horn Book, starred review
"Complicated yet ultimately endearing characters are a Francisco Stork standard. His latest novel doesn't disappoint." -- Chicago Sun-Times
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Top customer reviews
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It starts off AFTER a young girl tries to take her own life which important bc it doesn’t glorify suicide or focus one’s attention & instinct to blame. When things go wrong in our lives, we seek to understand & place blame somewhere. The reality is that most cases of suicide are NOT done bc of one single thing - it’s all those single hurts that add up until one can no longer hold on.
While considered s YA book, it does an excellent job of explaining how a suicidal mind thinks. And those thoughts & feelings are not just the woes of teenagers; but rather shed light on the feelings of anyone who has seriously considered suicide.
Given that suicide is the #1 killer of teens, this book is important for PARENTS to read as well. It gives the warning signs of a depressed teen (much of which can translate to an adult.) Teens and other suicidal people often talk about committing suicide, but not all do.
Instead there may be s tendency to withdraw from the world. Vicki (main character) talks about the blissful silence she felt/heard before and after she takes the pills from her stepmother. (Keep such items locked away as teens are holding “M&M” parties where they bring in all the prescription meds found in their homes, mix them up in a bowl and, not even knowing what they are for, will take a handful!)
This book is also about accepting ones feelings, allowing space in our hearts to grieve the loss of someone, be it a parent or friend.
Our culture is so disconnected from death bc it has become “sanitized” by bright white hospitals and then the timeline on how long you’re allowed to grieve is on. Are you done grieving yet? Are you done yet? Done yet? Reality is that when someone loses a loved one, as Vickie lost her mother, one never really STOPS grieving. Instead we learn to live with it and incorporate it into our own personal stories.
Suicide is a difficult thing to comprehend if you’ve never felt the hopelessness and loneliness that a suicidal person can feel. Often times, after weeks or months of displaying depressive feelings, they suddenly cheer up. That, on the outside looks like a good thing. But, it may also happen bc the suicidal person has a workable plan in place and the heavy, wet blanket that has been holding him/her down has been lifted as they accept dying as their way out.
The ONLY reason I couldn’t give this book 5 stars is because Vickie’s “ recovery” takes place over the course of 3 weeks and she has a family supporting her to the best of their ability. Chronic clinical depression with a suicide attempt is not “fixed” in the span of 3 weeks and I wish Stork had somehow ended the story on a more reality-based scenario.
Finally, if someone you know is talking about suicide, do NOT fall into the mistaken belief that s/he won’t do it. Do NOT leave that person alone and at the very least, take all medication and guns from the residence. Encourage them to talk about WHY they feel that way and ask how you can best be of service to him/her. LISTEN to what they have to say. Don’t try to cheer them up with worn out cliches or try to solve the problem right this second. Ask them to commit in writing that they will not hurt themselves in the next 24 hours. Repeat as needed until professional help becomes available.
I believe that everyone could benefit by reading this book. It gives readers a lens through which they can experience the world of someone who is suicidally depressed. This is likely the single, most important book you will ever read.
Writing, characters, depiction of mental illness: A
Realistic treatment, therapy: F
From the first page, I was swept up into Francisco X Stork's beautiful, almost poetic descriptions of depression through Vicky's gorgeous narration. I actually felt like I was inside Vicky's skin, experiencing the dearth of her lows, the hopelessness of her existence. Stork, I thought, is someone who not only understands the feelings, but can giftedly bring the reader along for the ride.
The characters were well rounded and depicted different types of mental illness realistically. Dr Desai had some positive points, but her utter lack of confidentiality, boundaries and ethics made her a big disappointment.
As the story progressed, I overlooked that adults and minors were on the same psychiatric ward, I don't mind a little creative license. The more the story veered from not only the psychologically ethical, the HIPAA violations etc, but also legally prohibited, lapses in credulity started to annoy me. Psych patients aren't usually permitted to travel unsupervised to a patient's home for a birthday celebration and under no school of thought could a psychiatrist have patients come stay, barely supervised, as her ranch as part of "therapy" especially with the blessing of insurance companies which will barely pay for a patient for 5 days after a suicide attempt. I could give example after example, but I don't want to give away the plot.
I loved the multicultural and economic class aspect of the story and the cultural biases of mental illness in different segments of society.
THEMES: depression, mental illness, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, suicide, death, grief, family
Mr Stork could have told an equally compelling story staying within the bounds of realistic treatment for depression, which would have made THE MEMORY OF LIGHT a better read.
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