Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia
By Jenny Torres Sanchez
Running Press • 2013 • 271 pages
Hardcover ($9.95)
ISBN: 978-0-7624-4680-3
Ages 14 and up

Except for her obsession with Emily Dickinson (no, not the poet, another one, who’s buried in a nearby cemetery in Orlando, Florida) and her concern about whether or not she could have saved the life of her #1 crush, Andy Cooper, Frenchie Garcia is a pretty normal girl. And everything would be fine in her life, if it weren’t falling apart. Best friend Joel is bailing on plans to leave steamy Florida for Chicago now that he’s in love with rocker Lily, and the art school in Chicago didn’t accept Frenchie as a student. And there’s no one, literally no one, Frenchie can talk to about her first and last night with Andy—a night of wild adventure that ended with Andy bidding her good night (no kiss) and going home to commit suicide.

Read Related: Teen Suicide: What Can We Do to Prevent It?

Things keep spiraling downward until Frenchie takes desperate measures to confront a ghost and finds unexpected support in unlikely quarters. The piquant narrative voice and intelligent contemplation of the far-reaching consequences of teen suicide make this novel compulsively readable and a great discussion piece. Frenchie is salty, smart and real, and her ultimate take on life is both refreshing and affirming. Despite some strong language, this is an excellent teen-and-parent read that raises big questions and provides big answers in equal measure. Frenchie and friends won’t be soon forgotten; they are the kind of characters that seem more real the more they are contemplated. Simply excellent.

—Reviewed by Ann Welton, Library Media Specialist, Helen B. Stafford Elementary, Tacoma, WA