Books by Laura Torres

Released: June 15, 2002

Grandpa has disappeared again and Claire and her family must make the trip out to Idaho to try and help find him. His disappearance prompts a discussion of another missing person: Claire's father. He seemed energized with a superhuman energy one moment and unable to crawl out of his darkened bedroom the next. His death, while originally presented as an accident, is found to be a confused tangle of drugs and suicide and Claire's mother is left unable to cope with the loss. She is incapable of focusing on any one task for long, even basic housework seems to allude her. As they make the trip east from the moist Seattle landscape to the arid desert of Idaho, memories of her father flood Claire's thoughts. She remembers his insistence that she learn three languages at once and his determination that she should inherently understand how to swim without formal instruction. She also remembers his inability to function for days on end, lost in the depths of depression. Claire, with the help of her younger brother Stink and her friend, Raf, begins to accept the deficiencies of her family, eventually managing to put the memory of her father to rest. As she copes with the tangled feelings of identity and love, she also realizes that she must confront the possibility of mental illness in her own life. Absorbing and powerful. (Fiction. 12+)Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 15, 1999

A variety of issues—death, love, Christianity, and homosexuality—reside uncomfortably in this YA novel. Amy, 16, has recently lost her mother, to whom she was extremely close. Amy's father, a pastor, is busy mending other lives, finding it too agonizing to examine his own grief or his daughter's intense sorrow. As closed off from her father as she is from his church, Amy no longer soothes herself with thoughts of heaven and hope. She relies instead on her friendship with Sara, a more sophisticated and lively character, for emotional sustenance. Eventually however, Sara's burgeoning friendship with newcomer Anita becomes impossible to ignore. Amy is stunned when she sees them holding hands in a theater, and turns to Peter, waiting in the wings, a church-going, charming, gentle young man who helps rebuild her trust in others. Torres opens a dialogue on the church's views of homosexuality, timidly suggesting that although the church and its members frown on same-sex relationships, in real life, personal bonds may be more powerful than belief systems. She succeeds in enveloping readers in the nuances of young love, self-doubt, and the pain of losing a parent; depending on readers' own levels of innocence, Amy's ingenuousness and her clinging behavior will either be credible or simply dismaying. (Fiction. 12-14) Read full book review >