Some people die; others simply “depart.”
No one knows why, but 1 percent of all deaths are “departures.” With U.S. troops overseas on the brink of war, they are on the rise. After receiving a Death Letter from her Death, Hercule, 16-year-old Gabriela Rivera has one week to write her Wrap-Up List of things she hopes will happen in her final days and to prepare for her departure. While she wishes for a first kiss from the popular football starting receiver and a Pardon from her fate, she also selflessly hopes for first kisses for her three best friends. Despite the seemingly moribund subject matter, Gabriela’s first-person narration gushes with dark humor. Topping everything are the Deaths themselves. These skinny, 8-foot-tall, silvery figures, which seem to move by swimming in air, have to stand in line for coffee just like mortals when awaiting a departure. As the quick but thoughtful story chronicles each day before the Latina teen’s departure, the fulfillment of the Wrap-Up List leads to many surprises, including the real cause of her grandfather’s World War II–related death and the questioning of her long-standing religious faith. But if Gabriela wants that Pardon, she needs to find out Hercule’s Noble Weakness—and fast.
Quirky, charming and life-affirming, supernatural style. (Supernatural fiction. 12 & up)