Memory of Light
by Stork, Francisco X.

Waking up in the mental disorders ward after a suicide attempt, Vicky makes friends with other at-risk kids, who under the guidance of a compassionate doctor help her through the first steps towards self-acceptance and confronting the challenges that prompted her depression. Simultaneous eBook.

Francisco X. Stork is the author of Marcelo in the Real World, winner of the Schneider Family Book Award for Teens and the Once Upon a World Award; The Last Summer of the Death Warriors, which was named to the YALSA Best Fiction for Teens list and won the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award; Irises; and The Memory of Light, which received four starred reviews. He lives near Boston with his wife. You can find him on the web at and @StorkFrancisco.

*Starred Review* When high-school sophomore Vicky Cruz wakes up in the hospital psychiatric ward after a failed suicide attempt, she knows it's only a matter of time before she tries again. She agrees to stay for two weeks, not because she thinks it will change anything, but because she can't bear pretending anymore. Through Vicky's interactions with others in group therapy-chatty, energetic Mona; bold, angry E.M.; and preternaturally wise Gabriel-she finds acceptance and understanding, while her sessions with kindly Dr. Desai help reframe her life from the perspective of someone with an illness that needs treatment, not someone who "isn't trying hard enough." While the final third of the novel is crowded with less-credible action sequences, including a near drowning and a violent confrontation with an abuser, overall Vicky's story has undeniable emotional strength and an encouraging, compassionate message. Stork (Marcelo in the Real World, 2009) writes his characters with authenticity and respect, from their inner lives to their economic and cultural backgrounds (Vicky is Mexican American). As Vicky gradually recovers and begins to imagine her future, other characters work out their damaging assumptions as well. Though occasionally message heavy, this important story of a teenager learning to live with clinical depression is informative and highly rewarding. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

After a failed suicide attempt, 16-year-old Vicky Cruz wakes up in a hospital's mental ward, where she must find a path to recovery—and maybe rescue some others. Vicky meets Mona, Gabriel, and E.M.—a clan very different from Vicky primarily because of their economic limitations—at Lakeview Hospital. There, with the guidance of their group-therapy leader, Dr. Desai, they daily delve into deep-seated issues that include anger management, bipolar disorder, clinical depression, and schizophrenia. Beyond the hospital walls, Vicky's school friends amount to zero, and her future plans are difficult to conjure. Vicky has a flawed family: Becca, her Harvard-student sister, has grown distant; Miguel, her temperamental first-generation father, married Barbara only six months after Vicky's mother died of cancer; and collectively the two are sending Vicky's longtime nanny, Juanita, back to Mexico. A quick first-person narration guides readers through the complexity of Vi cky's thoughts and, more importantly, revelations. From her darkest moments to welcome comedic respites to Emily Dickinson's poetry, Stork remains loyal to his characters, their moments of weakness, and their pragmatic views, and he does not shy away from such topics as domestic violence, social-class struggles, theology, and philosophy. Following Schneider Award-winning Marcelo in the Real World (2009), Stork further marks himself as a major voice in teen literature by delivering one of his richest and most emotionally charged novels yet. (Fiction. 12 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2015 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

From The Memory of Light: "What happened, mi niña? Why you do something so horrible? Something happen in school?" "No, no." "Do you miss your mamá? I miss her too. Your mamá wouldn't want you to do this." "I know," I say, rubbing my eyes with my hands. "Who hurt you, mi niña? Tell me." "No one, Nana, no one hurt me. It just hurts inside, I don't know why." "Is it Barbara? Is that what happen?" "No . . ." I have no answers to these questions, no explanations that make any sense. I feel my head shrinking, tightening with pressure, as if I were taking an exam in a foreign language on a subject I never even knew existed. "She okay. She tries. She needs learn to smile. So serious always. But she not bad inside. Your father, he loves you also. They sometimes confused about how to love. But they okay." It is so painful to hear Juanita's voice. Why? "Nana, I have to go. I wanted to let you know I'm okay. This thing I did. Taking the pills. It doesn't mean I don't love you." "I know that, my niña, I know. I no never have doubts. Don't worry. I be here waiting for you. Diosito didn't want you to die." "I have to go now, Nana." "Don't cry, my little baby. Everything okay. You see." The call ends. I lie there for I don't know how long, my hand on the telephone, as if I'm afraid to let go of the voice that flowed through it. It is possible, I realize, to have people in your life who love you and who you love, and to still want to kill yourself. It's almost as if part of the reason you're doing it is for them, because you are not worthy of their love, and you want to stop being a burden to them, contaminating their lives with your moodiness and grumpiness and miserableness. I feel Juanita's love now. And it makes me feel so much worse.

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