The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork
Released January 26, 2016.
From the outside, Vicky’s life looks perfect. Her father is wealthy, her step mother loves to take her shopping, and her sister is a high achiever. But Vicky can’t get over the loss of her beloved mother, whom she cared for during her last months. So Vicky turns to the only solution she can see and tries to commit suicide. When she wakes up in a mental disorders ward, she starts the process of putting her life back together. She meets three other teens who have lived very different lives from her and yet they all are part of each others recovery. Slowly Vicky starts to see that she suffers from depression and what it will mean to return to her life after her time in the hospital.
Stork has once again created a book for teens that will speak directly to them. He takes on mental illness here in a forthright way, showing the way that depression can creep up on a person and change the way they perceive things. He also shows how a person’s life can be glamorous and yet stifling and not fulfilling. It is a book that speaks to the importance of support from a therapist, of medication and of creating a group of people who understand you in your life. It’s a brilliant novel that is complex and deep with plenty to explore and feel.
Vicky could have been a very different character in a lesser writer’s hands. With Stork’s skill, he hints at a superficial look at Vicky’s wealthy life and then goes much more deeply into why she is experiencing life in the way she is. She is a poetic soul caught in a capitalistic family, driven by high achievement but in ways that she cannot relate to. With the loss of her mother, her father changed, her sister distanced herself, and Vicky had no one to turn to for support any more.
Organic and real, this novel has a diverse heroine and cast of characters that will appeal to a wide range of readers and deals with a serious subject in an uplifting way. Appropriate for ages 13-17.
Reviewed from ARC received from Arthur A. Levine Books.