About the Book

Title: Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia
Published: 2013
Swoonworthy Scale: 6

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

Content Warning: This book involves death and suicide.

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!

Yay BFF Charm

(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

Faces of all different races, ethnicities and genders.

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

Screenshot from Booksmart, with two best friends wearing graduation caps and gowns and thrusting their clasped hands in the air

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?

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.

About the Contributor:

Sarah Hannah Gómez blogs at mclicious.org and other places on the internet.

This post was written by a guest writer or former contributor for Forever Young Adult.