The Survival Kit by Donna Freitas
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Release Date: October 11, 2011
Target Audience: Young Adult
Format: Hardcover borrowed from Ginger at GReads!
How I heard about it: Originally, from James at Book Chic
Summary: Rose’s mother loses the battle to cancer, leaving her with a dad that’s resorted to drinking too much to cope with the pain and a brother who has to return to college. She finds a Survival Kit left behind by her mother for her, which leads her to meet Will who helps her work through the grief.
I’m not entirely sure where to start this review, other than to simply say that I LOVED THE SURVIVAL KIT. There were so many strengths. It was full of emotion and beautiful writing. There were scenes that took my breath away. Others left me gasping for air as I tried to fight back the tears. There is a scene with kites where I had to close the book for the night (even though it was much earlier than I wanted to stop reading) just to let the effects of it sink in – pure. beauty. Let me attempt to break down the many, many reasons I loved this book…
In a lot of young adult fiction, we see brokenness in the form of broken families. Rose’s family is floundering at the loss of her mom, and while her dad is dealing by drinking too much, at its core, The Survival Kit has amazing family values built into it. The flashbacks Rose would have of her mother, the way her brother and grandmother tried to intervene to make life easier, and even the way Rose took care of her father made me want to be a part of her family. I loved the support system.
It wasn’t just her family that was amazing; the support also came from a group of incredible friends. I have to admit there were times I fully expected things to be super cliche where things would just continue to get worse and worse. Rose abandons every remnant of her life before her mother’s death. Despite that she puts months of separation between herself and her friends, they are there ready to help her carry on. One of the most outstanding characters was Rose’s best friend, Krupa. That girl was a rock. I need a Krupa for when my life goes to crap. She could read Rose like the back of her hand and never once expected more than Rose was able to give. She was just there. All the time.
There’s a little bit of a love tango in the mix, too. I don’t want to spoil an ounce of this story for you so I’ll be vague. Chris is Rose’s boyfriend. Will is a
hottie boy who lost his father and takes care of Rose’s gardens after her mother dies. You might be thinking love triangle, but let me stop you right there. No, no, no love triangle. Frietas handled the boy situation so perfectly. Every time I was cringing thinking some awkward situation was about to go down, I found myself exhaling with relief. Freitas gave Rose so much strength and maturity. I wanted to applaud Rose for how she handled so many situations. This girl is an awesome example for teenage girls today.
I could just go on and on with things I loved (and clearly I haven’t even mentioned the actual Survival Kit), but I might end up stumbling over my words in a rush to declare my love for this book. I wrote down a list of things I loved, so I’ll just stop and advise you to read this book right now. Oh, and of course, here’s my list if you need further convincing:
- Will was slow-going to get to know, but wow did I love this boy.
- Loved the hockey element. I don’t know a thing about hockey, but this book convinced me hockey should be more widely written about.
- Discovering what was included in Rose’s Survival Kit was awesome. Each thing was so unique and tailored specifically to her. I loved the role music played in this portion of the book, and how well her mother knew her to be able to create something so awesome.
- It’s a story about caring, the effects of death, loving and moving on after a death in the family, learning how to live, and also learning how to love.
If you don’t like to cry when you read, if you don’t like contemporary fiction, and even if this doesn’t sound like something you’d like – I beg of you that you’ll give The Survival Kit a chance anyway.