Monday, October 31, 2011

The Survival Kit by Donna Freitas

The Survival Kit by Donna Freitas
Release Date: October 11, 2011
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

When Rose’s mom dies, she leaves behind a brown paper bag labeled Rose’s Survival Kit. Inside the bag, Rose finds an iPod, with a to-be-determined playlist; a picture of peonies, for growing; a crystal heart, for loving; a paper star, for making a wish; and a paper kite, for letting go.  As Rose ponders the meaning of each item, she finds herself returning again and again to an unexpected source of comfort. Will is her family’s gardener, the school hockey star, and the only person who really understands what she’s going through. Can loss lead to love? -

It's a very simple summary that gives us, but what's between the pages of this book is anything but simple.  This was one of those books for me... the kind that grabs you from the start, worms its way into your emotions, and leaves an impression.  I had been in somewhat of a small reading slump.  I was enjoying the books that I was reading, but I kept waiting for one to really grab me emotionally.  This one did.

The situation Rose is facing is tough.  Anyone who has ever dealt with the loss of a close loved one knows what Rose is going through, and I have to assume that this author has lived through it as well, in order to so closely, accurately, and poignantly depict the emotions and behavior that not only Rose, but also her father and brother suffer at the loss of their mother.  This girl has done all she can to step into her mother's place in the family, take care of everyone, while at the same time, pretty much withdrawing from everything in her life that used to be important to her.  She's a shell and has drawn inward so much.  Her mother's Survival Kit pushes her a little at a time to start awakening and opening back up again.

Will was the perfect companion for her.  Having suffered loss himself, he knows exactly what Rose feels, and it seemed like a glove fitting on a hand when these two were drawn together and fit together so well.  Healing takes place, almost without them realizing it.  So much of the time when I read a story like this, I can feel myself being maneuvered by the author to see the "lessons learned", the progression of healing, etc... but not so in this case.  It was such a natural progression, and their relationship moved forward in tiny, sensitive steps.

The way the author handled this story was breathtaking.  This was a beautiful story with beautiful writing.

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