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Hey, Would You Be My Dead Friend for Five Minutes?

Hannah reviews Jenny Torres Sanchez's Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia, deliverer of emotional and physical feels.

Hey, Would You Be My Dead Friend for Five Minutes?

Please join us in welcoming back Hannah Gómez! Hannah likes paper dolls, potato chips, and 90s series fiction for girls. She will generally order a whiskey sour, but if she's feeling saucy, she'll go girly and do a Midori Sour. Either way, she would like a glass of extra cherries, please. She blogs at mclicious.org and other places on the Internet.

BOOK REPORT for Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia by Jenny Torres Sanchez

Cover Story: Literary Ed Hardy
BFF Charm: Yay!
Swoonworthy Scale: It’s Complicated
Talky Talk: 2 Legit 2 Quit
Bonus Factors: The Physical Kind of Feels, Too; Ethnic Diversity; Socioeconomic Diversity
Relationship Status: You Never Forget Your First Love

Cover Story: Literary Ed Hardy

No people on it! Alliterative title! And little things that seem like random pictures but will perhaps make sense to you after you read the book.

The Deal:

Frenchie has been obsessed with death all summer, and no one really gets why, because nobody thinks she even knew Andy Cooper, let alone that she might have known him well enough to be upset about his suicide. Her best friend Joel is too busy having a new girlfriend to want to move to Chicago with Frenchie, her parents think she’s all about re-applying to college when she’s not sure she cares, and basically everyone around her kind of sucks. And on a night when people suck especially royally, she finds a guy to help her recreate a night when things went right and wrong – the night she spent with Andy Cooper.

BFF Charm: Yay!

(Though if you were not alt or weird or uncool in high school, probably this is a maybe.)

Frenchie is going on a pedestal on the altar of Fictional BFF Goddesses next to the bust of Jessica Darling. I like a grumbly girl who isn’t overwhelmingly positive. People like to talk smack about girls who complain or criticize, but even we kvetches have private moments of awe, and we do acknowledge them.

(It should be pretty clear that this book is a YAY with me partly because I see a bit too much of myself in Frenchie. And also because it’s totally Nick and Norah.)

Swoonworthy Scale: It's Complicated

There isn’t a swoon, really? Which I love? Like, there are two meaningful guys who are both clearly positioned with Frenchie to potentially have kissy time, but really, this entire book is about having all the feels - like feeling infinite, which is that teensy moment that you might have been lucky enough to have once or twice in your life; feeling frustrated and immobile because you’re old enough to know what you want to do but not old enough to be allowed to do it; feeling like you don’t have a right to your grief or your feelings because they’re not easily explained.

So basically it is a 10 on the infinity swoon scale, and there is nothing genre romance about this. If you must have an arbitrary score for the two dudes, we’ll call it 6 and 8 respectively (meaning dead guy first, living guy second).

Talky Talk: 2 Legit 2 Quit

I can’t really describe the voice in this book, because it just seems entirely realistic – a bit snarky, a bit sentimental, and always right in that sweet spot where it could go purple prose-y but it doesn’t. I was feelin’ it.

Bonus Factor: The Physical Kind of Feels, Too

The book itself feels kind of velvety. Even when you’re done reading, you can pet it.

Bonus Factor: Ethnic Diversity

Hey, look: It’s a Latina girl and she’s just going around being involved in art and alt music, and she also hangs out in cemeteries and talks to ghosts (but ghosts that she makes up – this is straight realism, dawg) and memorizes poetry. Because you can be those things and just also be not your average white girl. It’s totally allowed. Thanks, French.

Bonus Factor: Socioeconomic Diversity

Frenchie just graduated from high school and didn’t get into college, because sometimes you don’t get into college. And she’s not super freaking out, because there actually exist in America lots of kids who won’t go to college (at least not right away), and it does not at all mean that they are not smart or interesting or even different from other people. You know?

Casting Call:

Two things you should know about me: first, I gave up long ago on reading books and thinking that people in them might look like they lived in the world I do. That means I don’t actually read carefully any physical descriptions, so if Frenchie described herself at some point, I have no memory of it. Same with all other characters, so there is probably some racebending up in here. #sorrynotsorry

Second, apparently I don’t know of any actresses under the age of 22 who exist and are of color. I need to catch up on Disney Channel. So I had to do a lot of Tumbl’ing and stuff to do this casting, and I’ve mostly picked people I don’t know anything about. I’m sorry. I will try better next time.

Ariana Grande as Frenchie

Because Naya Rivera is a little too typecast and a little too old, and I have a feeling this girl can dig into the tude even if she does seem sweet as pie.

Nick Krause as Joel

I don’t know anything about this kid, but he looks kind of adorable, kind of sweet, and kind of like a douche, and that would be perfect.

Amandla Stenberg as Lily

Lily is sickeningly sweet and annoying but only because she genuinely means to be nice and friendly. And this kid is so freaking cute.

Jennette McCurdy as Robyn

Because doesn’t she just look like a funny, nice, but somewhat forgettable sidekick?

Jake T. Austin as Andy

He just looks like he’s ready to live the night of his life and die young.

Adam Irigoyen as Colin

I have trouble with how pretty he is, but in interviews, he is clearly smart (he knows José Martí, guys!). That kind of works, given this is a character who is awkward when he texts, meh when he just stands around yet also really sweet when you get to know him. Don’t judge a book by its cover, guys.

Also, I’m sorry. I said I would be bad at this. I would be much better if I could cast out of a time machine and pull everyone I liked ten years ago.

Relationship Status: You Never Forget Your First Love

This book is like a thrilling first love that you will always love and have no regrets about no matter what comes later in life. You know how there are books that are awful and books that are just fine and books that are fun, and then there are books that you never knew you needed until you read them? This one is that. This book made me feel like I was a teenager again, and I hated being a teenager, but this one pulled the few moments when I did feel like I was living an infinite moment. It’s a treasure.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia is available now.