Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

The Memory of Light

The Memory of Light

Fall 2016 Fiction
Ages: 12 & Up
Author: Francisco X Stork
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN: 9780545474320
Hardcover Price: $17.99

Vicky Cruz, the troubled teen narrator of The Memory of Light attempts suicide in the book's opening pages. She struggles with feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, and even the privileged life she leads. She lost her mother to cancer, and though her family seems to have moved on, she lives in a stubborn gloom that she can't explain, fix or even really understand.

It's difficult subject matter that Francisco X. Stork writes about very thoughtfully. He acknowledges the stigma of mental illness, but doesn't try to smooth it over. Stork shows his readers four strong characters and members of Vicky's inpatient therapy group, all struggling with different disorders. And he does it with a refreshing lack of stereotype, or cliché. There are no easy fixes for any of them, yet there is still light.

Vicky was unsuccessful in her attempt, and now must decide how to go on in a world that won't be any easier. It feels like an extremely authentic portrayal of depression, in its different stages and shades. It's also a touching portrait of a young girl navigating the general complexity of life.

There are important messages here, none of them too heavy-handed. One is that we are exactly who we are, there's no wrong or right formula. For Vicky, who considers herself an underachiever in a very driven family, loving and accepting herself is one of her greatest struggles. Her story doesn't wrap up perfectly neatly, but neither does life, which is the point.

Equal parts heartwarming and heartbreaking, this is a beautifully written and affecting read.

Teresa DiFalco   ©2016 Parents' Choice
Teresa DiFalco is an award-winning ghostwriter, writer, and mother in Vancouver, Washington. She's been a contributing editor for Parents' Choice for over ten years. She's a strong speller, a menace at badminton, and makes a decent soufflé.

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