Summary and book reviews of The Memory of Light by Francisco Stork

The Memory of Light

by Francisco X. Stork

The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2016, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2017, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Sarah Tomp

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About this Book

Book Summary

16-year-old Vicky Cruz wakes up in a hospital's mental ward after a failed suicide attempt. Now she must find a path to recovery - and perhaps rescue some others along the way.

When Vicky Cruz wakes up in the Lakeview Hospital Mental Disorders ward, she knows one thing: After her suicide attempt, she shouldn't be alive. But then she meets Mona, the live wire; Gabriel, the saint; E.M., always angry; and Dr. Desai, a quiet force. With stories and honesty, kindness and hard work, they push her to reconsider her life before Lakeview, and offer her an acceptance she's never had.

But Vicky's newfound peace is as fragile as the roses that grow around the hospital. And when a crisis forces the group to split up, sending Vick back to the life that drove her to suicide, she must try to find her own courage  and strength. She may not have them. She doesn't know.

Inspired in part by the author's own experience with depression, The Memory of Light is the rare young adult novel that focuses not on the events leading up to a suicide attempt, but the recovery from one - about living when life doesn't seem worth it, and how we go on anyway.

Nana

I tried to write you in Spanish but my Español no es muy bueno en este momento. So I try in English. If you're reading this it's because you found it taped to the back of Mamá's painting. Take the painting with you to Mexico and the climbing pink roses will remind you of Mamá and maybe of me too. I know you're sad now as you read this. I wish I could tell you not to be triste but I know you. Think of something happy and funny like the time I finally got you to go in the pool because it was good for your arthritis. Remember how I laughed and you screeched when we went in? How you held on to me for dear life? The Spanish word I never heard you say before when I let go of you.

Nana I want to tell you this. Please don't think I don't love you or that I don't love Becca or Father or Barbara either. I held off from doing this for a long, long time because I knew how bad you and everyone would feel. But the ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

Key Idea and Details

  1. Why is Vicky so sure at the end of chapter one that she will try to kill herself again? What happens during her first meal with Mona, E.M., and Gabriel that is different from her life at home? What does she mean when she thinks to herself, "Finally . . . Truth" (p. 22)?
  2. Discuss Mona's theory "about how mental illness makes people smart" (p. 65). What does she mean? List the ways each of the members of the GTH acts that is "smart" and how it makes them feel about themselves. How does this relate to Gabriel's statement: "Depression is bad, but it can teach us some things" (p. 174)?
  3. Discuss the phrase: "You can lie to others if you want—we all have to do that to stay alive—but don't lie to ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The Memory of Light sends a message to a depressed teen that he or she is not alone. I would also recommend it to friends and family members looking to understand a loved one's fight with depression. It certainly helps to answer Vicky's question: "How can you love someone and still want to kill yourself?"   (Reviewed by Sarah Tomp).

Full Review (942 words).

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Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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.

Booklist

Starred Review. [T]his important story of a teenager learning to live with clinical depression is informative and highly rewarding.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. Stork further marks himself as a major voice in teen literature by delivering one of his richest and most emotionally charged novels yet.

Author Blurb Martha Brockenbrough, author of The Game of Love and Death
The Memory of Light takes you to that strange, cold planet that is depression. Vicky's journey back from the darkness doesn't simplify or sentimentalize the pain of mental illness. Francisco Stork has shows us the universe of the human mind, how it can be terrifyingly dark - and how, in the company of the right sort of heart - infinitely dazzling.

Author Blurb Stephanie Perkins, New York Times bestselling author of Isla and the Happily Ever After
The Memory of Light is filled with hard truths and beautiful revelations. It's a beacon of hope for those in the dark of depression. This book just might save your life.

Reader Reviews

Minnie-Kaywood

I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS BOOK!
This book must be my favorite so far.

Sam

I love it!
It was very good. It was so sad, very touching.

Ghehdv

Memory of light
This book is so good that I want to read it again so I'm sure that other people will be happy to read it

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Beyond the Book

Young Adult Novels Exploring Depression

According to Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE), suicide is the second leading cause of death in people 15-24 years of age, and ranks tenth when considering all ages. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that in the United States, eight percent of all people over the age of twelve suffer from depression in any two-week period. Although females are more likely to experience a major bout, males' related suicide attempts are more likely to end in death.

In addition to The Memory of Light, several recently published books for teens explore the issues of depression and suicide in teens.

YA books addressing depression

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Told in alternating points of view, this tells the tragic love story of two ...

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