Sunday, April 22, 2012


How do you deal with losing someone you love? What if they could just tell you one last thing? What if, before they died, they left you a blueprint for recovery?

In Donna Freitas’ The Survival Kit that is exactly what happens to 16 year old Rose. After the death of her mother, Rose seeks comfort in the first place she can find: her mother’s closet. She is faced with a paper bag, tied with a little blue string labeled “Rose’s Survival Kit”, tied to the hanger of her mother’s favorite dress. The last gift her mother would give her. One of her famous survival kits. This novel follows Rose’s journey after her mother’s death, coping with loss, supporting her father, and working her way through the puzzle of her survival kit.

Honestly, this is one of the most touching, heart-wrenching, and wonderful books I have ever read. Any high school student who is dealing with loss should most certainly read this. It touches on some really hard things like how it actually feels to go back to school after losing someone and how your whole world changes. Any high school student could read this. This book is captivating from beginning to end. It is filled with high school. Breakups, makeups, hook ups, football games, cheerleaders, music, and any other essential high school event is in this book. Add in the fact that there are some real world messages and big time life skills outlined in this novel and it makes it a true winner.

A survival kit. Six simple things, left behind for Rose to decipher her way through the grieving process. The true genius of this book isn’t in the tokens of the survival kit, but the way the characters come to understand them and understand one another. The true blending of characters and lives in The Survival Kit is so masterful and complex that it is nearly impossible to remember that it is a work of fiction. If there was one negative thing to be said about this book it’s that it is not accompanied by a novel following Rose’s brother Jim on his own journey of grief.

This novel is truly a work of art and very effectively provides an intimate and character-driven piece that many teens could relate to. The relationships in the novel are real and create the weight and direction that makes it impossible to put down. Freitas' writing is incredibly powerful and The Survival Kit is on the YALSA list for Best Fiction for Young Adults.

5 comments:

BookPaige12 said...

It is a shame this novel does not have a companion in the journey of her brother! It is always more difficult to find books for young boys, in my opinion. I watch boys that are 8 years old and try to always read to them, but we are quickly running out of things beyond Captain Underpants. I'm nervous for the time when they outgrow that and get bored with reading altogether because nothing is written to appeal to them. Maybe this author will eventually write the companion book. One can only hope!

Susan said...

My cousin is 8 and he LOVES the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. They have some really great themes about social skills, friendships, and fitting into your family. You should definitely check those out!

ashallard said...

This book seems very touching and inspirational. I personally thank god, have never had to deal with a death of a loved one in my teen years and don't think I could ever handle this. I think that it is so important for someone who might be experiencing this to realize that they are not alone and would feel better reading about others who are dealing with this rather than feeling like they are alone. I think it is hard enough for teenagers to talk about their feelings especially if they are about the death of a loved one. It is great to offer a book to teach them a thing or two and help them deal with the loss as well as other teenage trial and tribulations of life.

Freddy in the Chi said...

I want to know what was in the kit? So I will find the book and read it. Nice job.

Shachon said...

The situation Rose is facing is tough. Anyone who has ever dealt with the loss of a close loved one knows what Rose is going through. I wonder if the author has lived through it as well, in order to so poignantly depict the emotions and behavior that not only Rose, but also her father and brother suffer at the loss of their mother.