Title: The Survival Kit (amazon/goodreads)
Author: Donna Freitas
Expected publication: October 11th 2011 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Source: ARC provided by publisher for review
Summary: "When Rose’s mom dies, she leaves behind a brown paper bag labeled Rose’s Survival Kit. Inside the bag, Rose finds an iPod, with a to-be-determined playlist; a picture of peonies, for growing; a crystal heart, for loving; a paper star, for making a wish; and a paper kite, for letting go.
As Rose ponders the meaning of each item, she finds herself returning again and again to an unexpected source of comfort. Will is her family’s gardener, the school hockey star, and the only person who really understands what she’s going through. Can loss lead to love?"
First line: "I found it on the day of my mother's funeral, tucked in a place she knew I would look."
Thoughts: If the director of P.S. I Love You ever decided to write a book, but instead, wrote it about a daughter losing her mother, The Survival Kit would be that book. I cannot put into words the emotional roller coaster this book has put me through. With lovable characters, heartbreaking circumstances and a subtle romance that blooms as the seasons change, The Survival Kit is the perfect book for anyone who has ever lost someone they love.
The book starts off with the day of Rose's mom's funeral and spans out for an entire year. Rose has not been the same since her mom died. Her father, while still a good man, drinks his pain away, while her brother's off in college, leaving Rose in charge or herself and her dad. Though the picture frames that once held memories of a happy family are now bear, everything still reminds Rose of her mother. She can't even listen to music without bursting into tears.
Throughout the book, the reader will witness as Rose blossom into such an amazing young lady. I love how ever single detail in this book plays a role into a story, especially music. With the way the author spins it all together and slowly starts incorporating music into Rose's life, the only way I can describe is that it's breathtaking. It's like watching a sad movie where you know it's about someone else or that it's not even real, but you get so completely lost in it that it ends up feeling like your own story. It's not the easiest read, but it is wonderful.
One thing I loved about this book is that every single character is as lovable as the next. They're all so caring and wonderful. There is not one character in this book I would kill off if I could, and that says a lot. This book focuses on family and loss, so it was nice that while all the characters have their part in the story, their roles are not overbearing.
And the romance between Rose and Will? Amazing! Plus, get this, it actually develops! You know how I love that. It's not an epic romance, but for this story, it's perfect. It's subtle yet sweet. Even though sometimes being around one another can be painful (with the lost of Rose's mom and Will's dad), they still somehow find happiness in one another. It's beautiful, yet complicated and all around fabulous.
From the peonies, to the kites, to the music and more, this book will captivate it's readers until the very end. For anyone who has ever lost anyone and even for those who haven't, I would highly, highly recommend checking out The Survival Kit. I'm upset that it hasn't received as much press as it should, but from one reader to another, you must check this out. If you love a good contemporary novel that revolves around loss and hope, this is the book for you!