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THE SURVIVAL KIT by Donna Freitas


by Donna Freitas

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: Oct. 11th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-374-39917-7
Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

A story of struggle in which 16-year-old Rose fights to bloom again after her mother’s death from cancer.

When Rose’s mother died, Rose felt as if her life had stopped. She no longer has any interest in her friends, cheerleading or her quarterback boyfriend, Chris. Despite her best efforts she cannot seem to hold onto what is left of her family as alcoholism threatens to destroy her home life. But her mom did not leave Rose without any help. On the day of her mom’s funeral, Rose finds a "survival kit" left by her mother, which contains what seems to be a hodgepodge of cryptic items, such as an iPod filled with meaningful songs, a photo of peonies and a miniature crystal heart. All were carefully chosen to help Rose overcome her grief and move on to adulthood. As Rose slowly decodes the survival kit's contents, she finds that each item plays a creative role in helping her deal with her loss, including connecting her with Will, a classmate who has also lost a parent but whom she never took the time to notice. Freitas also gives Rose the redoubtable Grandma Madison, who provides some appealingly crusty support of her own. Flashbacks of Rose's mother's illness punctuate her first-person account of her slow healing.

Although somewhat predictable, Rose’s cathartic interactions with her survival kit provide a creative way to show that mother always does know best. (Fiction. 12 & up)