Frenchie lives down the street from the local cemetery, so she’s well aware of the impermanence of life. But lately it’s been getting her down more that usual and only Frenchie knows why. No one knows she was with Andy Cooper for one crazy night before he committed suicide. Frenchie is haunted by the thought that if only she had paid more attention to the clues, she could have done something to stop him. Finally, when she’s pushed everyone away except a new guy named Colin, she decides to relive the things she did with Andy that fateful night to see if there was something she missed.
Death, Dickinson and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia by Jenny Torres Sanchez is a look at the lasting legacy of suicide, even on people who were only acquaintances of the person who died. Frenchie had a crush on Andy Cooper, but she didn’t really know him, and she’s not sure why he chose her to be with him on his last night. She often goes to the cemetery to find a peaceful place to think, and she likes sitting by the grave of a woman named Emily Dickinson. Even though she knows it’s not the grave of the famous poet, Frenchie finds solace in thinking of Emily’s poetry and what it means to her while she sits there.
Frenchie is rough around the edges, and she’s at a turning point in her life. She wasn’t accepted to the art school she hoped to attend after high school, and she has no credible plan for what she’ll do instead. Andy’s death exacerbates the depression she feels more and more each day. In her quest to relive the hours she spent with him, Frenchie seems to be searching for a way to save herself.
I shed a few tears by the time I turned the last page on Frenchie’s story, and I recommend it for book clubs with girls aged 15 and up. Discussion can center on the effects of teen suicide and the difficulties teens face when graduating high school and determining what they want to do next.
The publisher provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.