Monday, March 05, 2007

Review: grief girl

While the power was out, I read a couple of YA titles that left me thinking Wow! This is really different. Erin Vincent's grief girl is one of them.

grief girl is a memoir that reads like a YA problem novel. The narrator/author is fourteen years old when the unthinkable happens. Her beloved mother dies in a car crash and her father is severely injured. A month later, Erin's father dies from a blood clot to the heart.

Erin is the middle child, and much of her struggle after her parents' death results from her powerlessness. Older sister Tracy turns eighteen just days after their mother dies. She has already left school (grief girl is set in Australia) and begun a training program in cosmetology. Tracy has a steady boyfriend--a solid guy named Chris--and she assumes full responsibility for Erin and their much younger brother, Trent. As is only natural, she tries to shield Erin and Trent from responsibility, but is also angry that everything fell to her.

What I most appreciated about grief girl is its honesty. Vincent asks brutal questions, even if they don't have an answer and, in fact, reflect badly on her. Before her parents' death, Erin imagines the following scene while rehearsing a play with her theater group:
  • "I'll be sitting in this same chair a week from today and Mum and Dad will be gone. Tragedy will strike. Life will be ruined, changed forever. But the show must go on. I'll have to struggle on without them. I'll be up onstage rehearsing through the pain and everyone will think I'm noble and brave. Most people, if their parents died, would never be able to perform...but not me. I'm amazing and strong. It will be the best performance of my life. Everyone will say, 'Look at her! Isn't she incredible? A true star.'" (30-31)

Erin is not always likable as she narrates her story. While in school she becomes absorbed in her grief and it defines her. She wears her father's shirt for months on end. She fights with her sister and dreams of success only she can bring to her family. But, she's honest and straightforward, and grief girl resonates long after you've read the last page.