The Survival Kit
By Donna Freitas
Farrar Straus Giroux, 2011. 351 pgs. Teen fiction
Rose Madison's entire life has changed since her mother's death. She doesn't want to listen to music, she quit cheerleading, and she can barely stand to have her boyfriend touch her. Then she finds one of her mother's trademark survival kits, a brown bag with items that are intended to help the receiver of the gift survive whatever struggle they're dealing with. At first, Rose can't even bring herself to open the bag, but once she does, she finds herself trying to deal with her emotions, and is surprised to discover that she's developing feelings for Will Doniger, who, having lost his father to cancer, seems to understand her better than anyone.
Rose's emotional journey, as well as her blossoming relationship with Will, were developed pretty close to perfectly. Freitas did a good job portraying a girl who is torn by the conflict of wanting to freeze time as she grieves for her mother while at the same time knowing that she's supposed to move forward with her life. Freitas got just the right tone on this one--not too heavy and depressing but not too light either. Highly recommend.
4 stars. Some language and talk of a previous sexual relationship.