AFTER THE DEATH OF ANNA GONZALES

Terri Fields, Author . Holt $16.95 (112p) ISBN 978-0-8050-7127-6

In Fields's (Danger in the Desert) 47 poems, five adults and 42 fellow high school students respond to the death of freshman Anna Gonzales, whose suicide note closes this disappointing volume. The first voice is that of a new student who overhears hushed conversations in the hallway; ironically, she offers readers more clues to what's going on than even Anna's best friend, Alexis ("Somewhere, buried in all those words,/ Must have been a meaning I didn't understand," Alexis says, referring to a language she and Anna had invented together). Many of the poems rely heavily on stereotypes: a cheerleader expresses her hope that Anna's death won't interfere with a homecoming rally; a smooth-talking student wonders, "A suicide./ What's my slant?" Other students seize Anna's death as an opportunity: a boy uses it as an excuse to avoid football practice, another student considers jockeying for Anna's seat in Spanish class, across from the boy she likes. The author does not describe the atmosphere at the high school nor reveal the manner of Anna's suicide. Most of the speakers are so self-absorbed that readers will likely see why Anna felt invisible ("I will slip away,/ Making little fuss./ .../ Never pretty or popular enough to matter," reads her suicide note), but because none of these poems penetrates any one character, Anna's death may, unfortunately, leave as little impact on readers as it does on her peers. Ages 12-17. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 11/18/2002
Release date: 11/01/2002
Genre: Children's
Open Ebook - 112 pages - 978-1-4668-5952-4
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