“I had everything I needed to run a household: a house, food, and a new family,” explains 11-year-old Aubrey after stocking up on SpaghettiOs and buying Sammy, a pet fish, to keep her company. In Suzanne LaFleur’s tender debut novel, Love, Aubrey, the grieving girl has been holed up in her Virginia home since her mother, Lissie, devastated by the car crash that claimed Aubrey’s father and younger sister, packed up and left her all alone.
Discovered by her concerned Gram, Aubrey accompanies her back to Vermont, where they begin their search for Lissie and their long road to healing. Aubrey not only has to adjust to a new climate and school year, but to each holiday and even day-to-day events without her family.
What eases Aubrey’s grief the most are her emotionally charged letters, first to her sister’s imaginary friend, Sammy, and then to her absent family members. When she’s torn between moving back with her mother and staying with her grandmother, the letters allow her to work through the tense dilemma and to realize that home is not just a physical place but a refuge where comfort and caring reside.
Aubrey draws readers into her stirring plight with realistic concerns and a spot-on tween voice. The author’s precise word choice and even pacing leads middle-grade girls through every step of Aubrey’s heart-wrenching survival. They will indeed love Aubrey. Copyright 2009 BookPage Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2009 Fall
Having survived a car crash that claimed her father's and sister's lives, eleven-year-old Aubrey faces many challenges, compounded when her mother abandons her. Fortunately Aubrey is taken in by her grandmother, a no-nonsense New Englander, who connects Aubrey with her extended family and neighbors in order to remind her how to love. A heartwarming story of resiliency, hope, and friendship. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2009 May #1
In this touching debut novel, a devastating accident leaves an 11-year-old girl grieving and alone until her grandmother and some new friends provide comfort and support. When Aubrey's father and sister are killed in an automobile accident, her shattered mother disappears, leaving her alone in their Virginia home. In denial, Aubrey tells no one, pretends everything is fine and lives on Cheerios, SpaghettiOs, crackers and cheese. Eventually her grandmother takes her to Vermont, where Aubrey remains withdrawn and unable to discuss her loss except in letters she never mails. With the support of her grandmother, her new best friend and the school counselor, Aubrey's life gradually starts to seem slightly normal--until her mother appears, forcing her to face difficult new issues. Speaking in the first-person past tense, an initially detached Aubrey tells the story from her wobbly perspective, dropping hints about the accident and her mother's abandonment until the pieces fit together. Her detailed progression from denial to acceptance makes her both brave and credible in this honest and realistic portrayal of grief. (Fiction. 9-14) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2009 June #5
LaFleur's moving debut offers a convincing first-person narration of a girl coping in the wake of tragedy. When 11-year-old Aubrey's mother drives away one morning, leaving her alone in their house, Aubrey resolutely takes care of herself for a week, buying canned food (and a pet fish) with birthday money and watching TV. After Aubrey's concerned grandmother arrives (Aubrey hasn't been answering the phone) and takes her home with her to Vermont, the devastating circumstances behind her mother's departure become clear: Aubrey's family has recently been in a car accident, in which both her father and little sister were killed. Aubrey grapples with her abandonment by displaying psychosomatic symptoms--she gets frequent bouts of nausea--and through symbolic gestures (she periodically composes letters to her sister's imaginary friend, which are interspersed throughout). With the support of a neighbor her age, her grandmother and a school counselor who encourages her to write letters to her family, Aubrey begins to accept her loss and to understand her mother's complex motivations for leaving. The relationships at the center of Aubrey's struggle--with her mother, grandmother and with herself--are fleshed out with honesty and sensitivity. Ages 9-14. (June)[Page 129]. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
Gr 4-6--How does a child recover from unspeakable loss? For Aubrey, 11, it takes time, love, stability, and the emotional release that comes from writing letters. After her father and younger sister die in a car accident, Aubrey's mother becomes psychologically unstable and abandons her. Uprooted from her home in Virginia, Aubrey goes to live with her grandmother in Vermont. Along with Gram's love, she finds solace in spending time with the family next door and acquires a best friend in the process. When her mother materializes and begins her emotional recovery, Aubrey must decide whether to return home or to remain with her grandmother. Throughout the grieving process, her emotions are palpable. LaFleur captures the way everyday occurrences can trigger a sudden flood of memories and overwhelming feelings of renewed loss. She details the physical responses of the human body to emotional trauma with an immediacy that puts readers inside Aubrey's pain and loss. The child's progress is reflected in her letters, which are at first directed to her sister's imaginary friend, then to her dead father and sister, and finally to the mother who hurt her so deeply. While the grandmother's patience and insight at times stretch credulity, for those who want or need to experience grief vicariously, this is an excellent choice.--Faith Brautigam, Gail Borden Public Library, Elgin, IL[Page 164]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.