Thursday, August 13, 2009
A friend of mine recently handed me a copy of Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur to read. She warned me that it was sad, and she was right. But, more than sadness, this book was a testament to the strength of the human spirit - both of Aubrey, the main character, and some other very important characters around her.
The story begins with Aubrey, an 11 year old girl, living alone in her house in Virginia, eating whatever she likes and watching as much TV as she wants. At first, this is enjoyable for her, but the reader is left wondering where everyone else is. About half-way through the first chapter, we find out there has been a wreck (we don't know any specifics, or what kind of wreck it is). We also learn about the other people that lived in the house: Aubrey's mom, Aubrey's dad, and Savannah. Where those people are now is not clear yet.
We also meet Gram in the first chapter. Gram is a force with which to be reckoned. She is Aubrey's grandmother, her mom's mom. When Gram arrives at the house and realizes Aubrey is all alone, she takes charge and takes her home with her to Vermont. While I read, I knew she must be grieving as well, but she stays strong because Aubrey needs her.
In Vermont, Aubrey meets some very pivotal supporting characters: Bridget, who is Gram's next door neighbor and the same age as Aubrey, the rest of Bridget's family (a mom, dad, and little sister), Marcus who is a boy at the new school Bridget attends near Gram's house, and Amy, the guidance counselor at the new school who seems very attuned to children and the issues they have in their lives. These are the people who help Aubrey navigate her grief.
While in Vermont, we begin to learn more and more about what actually happened to the rest of Aubrey's family. There was a terrible car accident, and Aubrey's dad and her sister, Savannah died. We learn this in 3 different ways: 1) letters that Aubrey writes to Savannah's imaginary friend, 2) conversations that Aubrey and Gram have, and 3) flashback memories that Aubrey has about different events with her family.
The reader also learns what happened to Aubrey's mom (I don't want to give everything away).
This isn't a story where grief is easily conquered. It is realistic -- Aubrey gets a little better one day at a time, but there are many moments where she backslides and has to start the process over the next day. The resiliency of this eleven year old brought tears to my eyes over and over again.
Love, Aubrey is not a book that some of my 5th graders could read without support. Ther is much inferring that has to happen through Aubrey's letters, memories, and the situations in which she finds herself. That being said, this is most definitely a book I want to put into kids' hands. It would lend itself well to a Book Club conversation. It truly is an amazing book, and will have readers talking about it and the characters for a long time.
Important to note, Love, Aubrey is Suzanne LaFleur's first novel. Congrats to her on such an amazing story!