The Memory of Light by Francisco Stork | SLJ Review

redstarSTORK , Francisco. The Memory of Light. 336p. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545474320; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9780545634021.STORK, Francisco. The Memory of Light

Gr 9 Up –After attempting to commit suicide in her bedroom, Vicky Cruz wakes up in the psychiatric wing of the hospital. Exhausted and nearly catatonic, Vicky goes through the motions asked of her by the quiet but firm Dr. Desai while intending to stay only the mandatory time before going home to try again. After attending group therapy with the other three young people on the ward—her energetic roommate Mona, intimidating E.M., and angelic Gabriel, however, Vicky accepts Dr. Desai’s help in convincing her domineering father to let her stay. As Vicky begins intensive treatment, things start to look up, but the looming question of whether she and her friends can survive in the outside world remains. Stork’s latest starts slow, with a cold, dry tone that mirrors Vicky’s own emotional depletion. As the new environment and people begin to reach Vicky, however, the prose follows suit, growing smoothly into a warm and powerful tone. Unlike many novels about teens and suicide, this work focuses entirely on recovery. Vicky is dealing with a deep depression born from her mother’s death and learns not only to name her illness but to cope with the effects and stand up for her needs. Stork’s depiction of depression deftly avoids the traps of preaching or romanticizing and instead is accurate, heartbreaking, and hopeful. VERDICT A beautiful read that adds essential depth to the discussion of teens and mental illness.–Amy Diegelman, Vineyard Haven Public Library, MA

This review was published in the School Library Journal February 2016 issue.

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