cover image The Memory of Light

The Memory of Light

Francisco X. Stork. Scholastic/Levine, $17.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-545-47432-0

Vicky Cruz, 16, “put[s] on strong every morning,” trying to please her demanding father, a emotionally stunted man who married his assistant shortly after the death of his wife, six years earlier. But when Vicky’s father summarily fires her beloved, arthritic nanny, paying for her to return to Mexico, Vicky surrenders to the “soul pain” she has felt for years and swallows a bottle of her stepmother’s sleeping pills. Stork (Marcelo in the Real World) writes sensitively about Vicky’s journey from near death to shaky recovery, discussing his own experience with depression in an afterword. Awakening in a public hospital’s psych ward, Vicky attends group therapy with patients who have a catalogue of disorders, and learns from them to value her strengths. Various studies have estimated that perhaps as many as one in five teens has a diagnosable mental health problem; it’s a subject that needs the discussion Stork’s potent novel can readily provide. Vicky isn’t healed, but she finds a reason to keep living, and that constitutes progress worth celebrating. Ages 12–up. Agent: Faye Bender, the Book Group. (Jan.)