As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

January 4, 2016

LOVE, AUBREY by Suzanne LaFleur, 2009

A tragic accident has turned eleven-year-old Aubrey’s world upside down. Starting a new life all alone, Aubrey has everything she thinks she needs: SpaghettiOs and Sammy, her new pet fish. She cannot talk about what happened to her. Writing letters is the only thing that feels right to Aubrey, even if no one ever reads them. With the aid of her loving grandmother and new friends, Aubrey learns that she is not alone, and gradually, she finds the words to express feelings that once seemed impossible to describe. The healing powers of friendship, love, and memory help Aubrey take her first steps toward the future. (Goodreads)

Reviewed by Jaina, who spends most of her time reviewing books at Read Till Dawn

Gosh, I love LOVE, AUBREY so much. And oh, how it makes me cry! I have read many sad fictional books, from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (honestly, so many people die in that book!) to books about the Titanic and the last Romanovs, but most of them can't bring me to tears. They can make me really, really sad, it's true, but they can't make me actually cry. This book, though, gets the waterworks flowing in the first three chapters and never lets them stop. And this may sound miserable, but it's actually wonderful.

You see, this is a story of pain and grief and abandonment, but it's also the story of love and friendship and strength at the worst of times. It is the story of Aubrey, whose father and sister died in a car accident. Her mother was so incredibly consumed with grief she ran away from home a few months after the funeral, leaving Aubrey behind to take care of herself. The story is told in first person past tense, which worked well for the story by providing a compelling contrasts with the first person present flashback scenes in which Aubrey remembers life before the car accident. Instead of an info-dump at the beginning of the story we gradually find out the events of Aubrey's past as she is forced to remember them, which (you guessed it!) provides haunting snapshots throughout the story of how much Aubrey has lost.

The saddest parts of the narrative, however, are probably the letters Aubrey writes. At the beginning of the book she writes letters to her sister's imaginary friend Jilly as a way to sort of indirectly talk to a piece of her sister. As she begins to come to grips with everything that has happened to her, she starts to write more directly to her mother, father, and sister, telling them what she wishes she could say to them in person. She signs each letter "Love, Aubrey," which is the source of the title.

This is, without a doubt, one of my all-time favorite books. It's heart-wrenching, but it's also realistic and  heartwarming. Aubrey has had the unthinkable happen to her family, and she responds the way any real person would - through denial, through tears, and through shutting down at any reminder of what has happened. But as the story goes along, she learns to cope and to forgive and to live her new life with her grandmother and best friend/neighbor Bridget.

This is an amazing book, and I wholeheartedly recommend it. But please, know what you are getting into. This is not a light or easy read, and if you don't want to read a book that will make you cry, then don't pick this one up. But know that it does not just toy with the emotions: it is sad because terrible, tragic things happen in life, and sometimes you have to cry about them.

Market: Middle Grade
Language: None
Sensuality: None
Violence: Mild/Moderate (Aubrey has flashbacks to the car accident that killed her father and sister)
Mature Themes: Dealing with the realities of death and parental abandonment

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