When Vicky Cruz wakes up in the Lakeview Hospital Mental Disorders ward, she knows one thing: She can’t even commit suicide right. But for once, a mistake works out well for her, as she meets Mona, the live wire; Gabriel, the saint; E.M., always angry; and Dr. Desai, a quiet force. With stories and honesty, kindness and hard work, they push her to reconsider her life before Lakeview, and offer her an acceptance she’s never had.
But Vicky’s newfound peace is as fragile as the roses that grow around the hospital. And when a crisis forces the group to split up, sending her back to the life that drove her to suicide, Vicky must try to find the strength to carry on. She may not have it. She doesn’t know.
Inspired in part by the author’s own experience with depression, The Memory of Light is the rare young adult novel that focuses not on the events leading up to a suicide attempt, but the recovery from one — about living when life doesn’t seem worth it, and how we go on anyway.
Doesn’t it sound fantastic? Now read Francisco’s guest post about the difficulties with writing about mental health!
The hardest thing about writing fiction with characters that have a mental illness is the craftsmanship necessary to make the story interesting and hopeful. Mental illness, when it is realistically portrayed, is not a pretty thing to watch and persons with mental illness are not very attractive. So it takes a lot of very careful thinking, imagining and writing to create characters that are engaging and that inspire the reader to get to know them and even to care for them and love them.
The writing of The Memory of Light took a long time (four years) because I had to make sure that Vicky (the main character) had the right voice and that her thoughts and feelings and actions were an accurate reflection of her illness but also energetic and upbeat and even funny at times. It was also important to show that in some way the issues that mentally ill people deal with are issues that affect all of us in some way. The lack of meaning and purpose in life that affect a person with depression can affect all of us.
Francisco X. Stork is the author of the acclaimed Marcelo in the Real World which received five starred reviews and won the Schneider Family Book Award for Teens; The Last Summer of the Death Warriors, named a New York Times Editors’ Choice selection; and Irises. He was born in Monterrey, Mexico, spent his teenage years in El Paso, Texas, and now lives outside Boston, Massachusetts, with his family. Visit him online at .
Thank you for checking out my stop on The Memory of Light blog tour, run by the lovely Rock Star Book Tours! Make sure you check out the rest of the stops (you can see the schedule by clicking the banner below.) As part of this tour there’s also a fantastic give away of five finished copies of the book, click here to enter!