Author: Donna Freitas
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Year published: 2011
Sixteen-year-old Rose Madison used to have a perfect life: a loving and caring family, popularity, and a gorgeous boyfriend. But all changed after her mother passed away. Nowadays Rose was a full of grief teenager who hated being in the center of crowd. She pulled herself from her friends, her boyfriend, and also from music: thing she used to like the most.
One day, Rose found her mother's last gift for her, the Survival Kits, that was meant to help Rose to walk through her difficult time, contained an Ipod with songs compiled by her mother, a picture of peonies, a crystal heart, a paper star, a box of crayons, and a tiny handmade kite. Also, a beautiful gown Rose calls the Dress Made of Night. It's up to Rose's interpretation to use the kits. Rose started using the Survival Kits by planting the peonies with the help of the family's gardener and also Rose's senior, Will Doniger. Gradually, by using the Survival Kits, Rose found her new happiness and a way to live life after loss. And maybe a new love.
The Survival Kits, in my opinion, is an example of a perfect young adult contemporary book for adult readers. The main issue it brings up is very general as losing a member or members of a family is a thing that every person definitely will have to face sooner or later. It's very sad in some parts, of course, and I couldn't help myself from weeping while reading it, but the focus of the story is not about the loss, but moving on after that. And I think Donna Freitas really did her job well. The idea of the survival kit is brilliant and, WOW, apparently, it is actually inspired by what her mom has done.
Rose's character, in my opinion, is very interesting and I think Donna had a right decision to use Rose as the main character of this story. She's mature for her age, she's strong and full of responsibility although I don't like how she decided to shut herself from her surroundings and to solve all the problems by herself. But I can totally understand her too. The "before" Rose was a popular girl, a center of spotlight along with her quarterback boyfriend, Chris. Rose was used to being popular and being perfect in all situation. And I think that's why when she broke down, she didn't want to show her vulnerable side to her friends and especially to Chris. Rose is a kind of main character you want when you decide to read a sad-themed-book like this. She's not perfect, but she tries her best cope with her loss and it makes the process seems real and relatable.
The supporting characters are also interesting to read. Will also had similar problem like Rose, only he handled it differently. And Rose's family members... I love Grandma Madison! She's annoying and wise at the same time. And about Chris... another thing I like about this book is that Donna didn't make any bad person here, even Chris.
Although this book is about loss and how to cope with it, the content is not full of depression or sadness or whatever gloomy things. It also has the teenagers fun: friendship, watching hockey games, dating, and all those teenage-y stuffs, which makes this book more fun to read.
All in all, I really love this book and enjoy my time reading it. Donna Freitas tackles the issue brilliantly, a lot of lessons can be learned and also enjoyable to read. It's very nice to have a chance to read her writing. A must read.