Remembering Raquel by Vivian Vande Velde

I like Vivian Vande Velde’s somewhat spooky ghosty type stories, so I was pleased to see a book by her on the new shelf at the library. This, however, is not at all ghoulish. Well, it’s about death, but isn’t spooky or anything like that. Instead it is a collection of responses to a teenage girl’s death. I think there isn’t a person alive who hasn’t wondered what his or her funeral would be like and how people will react when we die. It’s funny that the main character of the story is not alive and we don’t even hear her speak, and yet she is a fully realized character. Hearing the responses from her best friend, her teacher, the strangers who were near her when she died, classmates, online friends who only knew her online personality, and her father create a full portrait of a Raquel. Vande Velde does this so well, in fact, that a few times I found myself thinking that I was hoping Racquel wasn’t really dead or that somehow at the end of the story we’d get to hear from Raquel herself. This was a great quick read, not overly maudlin or dramatic, but certainly thoughtful.

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