Thursday, December 13, 2007

Remembering Raquel


Velde, Vivian Vande. 2007. Remembering Raquel.

Remembering Raquel is an interesting novel. Told from many perspectives, many narrators, it is an examination of one girl, a so-called social "nobody," an invisible, is remembered after her tragic death by her classmates.

It's amazing how much dying can do for a girl's popularity.
I mean, I'm sitting here in the funeral parlor watching Erin McCall and my other classmates standing around Raquel Falcone's dad, each one of them acting like Raquel's best friend. i don't know if Erin's just doing her usual center-of-attention thing, or if she's actually trying to make Mr. Falcone feel better. That's what you do for a dead person's family--tell them she'll be missed even if you never once had a nice word for her or about her.
I know what I'm talking about: I was there in homeroom when Mrs. Bellanca broke the news.
She told us all to sit down, and I have to believe that was at least partly so she could see where the empty desk was--I don't think she was exactly sure which one to connect Raquel's name to. Certain kids have a tendency to be invisible.
"I'm afraid I have some bad news for you," Mrs. Bellanca said.
Her plan to prepare us did the opposite. I couldn't have been the only one who suspected that another standardized test was about to be announced. Or an assembly . . .
(1-2)

It's a short read. And it's a powerful one in my opinion. Different narrators, different stories, different observations about life, about living. All voices trying to make sense out of the death. Raquel was coming out from a movie, chatting with people on the sidewalk, when suddenly she was in the street right in front of a coming car. Was it accidental? Did she trip? Did she lose her balance? Was she pushed or shoved? Or did she commit suicide?

Overall, I recommend this one. I enjoyed it. It was fast. And while it wasn't "fun" necessarily--books about death and grieving are never 'fun'--I think it is important. There are many books this year that show that actions have consequences. That actions, that words--either harsh or kind--do make an impact. This is one of those kinds of books. I think the "invisible" misfits or outcasts of a class are ignored by classmates and teachers. Because they're ignored, because they're invisible. I think some must think it's okay. That their inactions aren't harmful, aren't as psychologically damaging as physical or verbal abuse. Anyway, I think this book is good in that it gives readers a chance to walk in many different shoes, to see life through many eyes.

But now, all of a sudden, it's Poor Raquel, and Sweet Raquel, and No-I-Never-Talked-to-Her-in-School-but-She-Was-My-Role-Model-and-Best-Bud Raquel.

And this gem of wisdom comes from Stacy Galbo's chapter:

You can be in (which is a select few), or you can be not in (which is the vast majority), or you can be out (but then you're not part of any crowd, because that's what "out" means). So I do my best to set a good standard to be civil to all, and to talk behind the backs of only the outest of the out. (82)

Now I feel terrible. And I wonder: What would have happened if I had gone out of my way to be nice to her? If I hadn't just refrained from bashing her, but had tried talking to her--about hair and clothes and diet and stuff? Not enough contact with her to jeopardize my own standing, which I've worked so hard to attain, but enough to help her improve herself so she wouldn't be so sad and hopeless. (84)

1 comments:

Ink Mage 6:39 PM  

This sounds really unique and interesting. Thanks for the recommendation!

Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

Pageloads Counter

Search Book Blogs Search Engine

The background is based on a background I found here...with some small adjustments on my part so it would work with the template.
Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP