Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Teen/YA Review: Irises

I enjoyed Marcelo in the Real World so much that I was eager to read another Francisco X. Stork book.  I chose Irises, a teen/YA novel about sisters dealing with the death of their father and their mother’s long-term vegetative state.  Although it wasn’t quite as special as Marcelo, Stork’s signature talents shine through, with well-developed characters and emotional depth.

Sisters Kate and Mary have led a very sheltered life – no cell phones, no car, strict rules about clothing – with their minister father, especially since their mother was injured in a car accident two years ago and entered a vegetative state.  Now their father has died suddenly, and their quiet, predictable lives are in turmoil.  Kate has dreams of leaving El Paso to study medicine at Stanford.  Mary has two years of high school left and a great talent for painting but lost her motivation and inspiration after her mother’s accident. 

Now, with no family but a distant aunt, they have to figure out what comes next – where will they live when the new minister takes over their home? How will they pay for everything? And most disturbingly, what should they do about their mother, who has been living at home, cared for by them and hired nurses?  To complicate matters further, Kate’s boyfriend Simon wants to propose, and Mary meets a new boy who both attracts and scares her.

As in Marcelo, Stork has created real characters with complex thoughts and feelings.  These two girls are facing some epic problems, with no obvious solutions.  Among many other issues, the novel deals with the question of whether their mother should live and what kind of a life she has, questions that have been debated at length in the real world recently.  There is a lot of emotional depth here, and plenty of complex situations that teens may not have considered before.  I enjoyed the novel and found it engaging and thought-provoking.

288 pages, Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic)

1 comment:

Anne@HeadFullofBooks said...

I have Irises sitting on the book shelf behind waiting its turn. What I like about Stork is the integrity with which he writes and how his characters display integrity. I am looking forward to this book.