Friday, July 11, 2008

Remembering Raquel

This novel is a departure from Vivian Vande Velde's usual supernaturally themed fare. A very brief read, (honestly, it can be read in an hour or less) it switches points of view from high school student to teacher to father and more as all try to come to terms with the presumably accidental death of fourteen-year-old Raquel Falcone. One minute Raquel was alive, joking around, excited from having just seen a movie. The next she stepped off a curb into the path of an oncoming car, and she was gone. Whose fault was it? Did Raquel do it on purpose? Her few friends, her suddenly interested classmates, her family, and witnesses to the accident each get their say, and each of them wonders about his or her role in the death. Through these assorted recollections, the reader gets the brief story of Raquel, and the reader knows more than all of the others.

I liked this. The author managed to give a broad range of reactions and it was pretty clever how she wove together the disparate ideas to give the reader the full picture. When the reader finds out why Raquel had a DNR (do not resusicate) order in her purse and how the ambulance crew reacted to it, it's one of the most poignant parts of the book. There wasn't a whole lot that VVV could do with the plot--her main character is dead, after all--and yet she manages to tell an arresting story, one that ended a bit abruptly for me, but a good story nonetheless. And although I wondered if Raquel would get her say--a voice from the dead wouldn't be unusual for VVV--the author didn't tread that ground. This is a straightforward reality based book. It isn't until you reach the last page that you understand the meaning of the cover, and I really liked how the author used that last page to make a final emotional impact.

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