Good day, dearest Germs! Today’s book review is courtesy of the founder of Germ, author and lady extraordinaire, Miss Jennifer Niven, who so kindly let me borrow this book from her personal collection. Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia, written by Jenny Torres Sanchez, was definitely not what I expected it to be when I first picked it up. It’s a little dark, a little twisted, and the main character Frenchie Garcia is about to be hurtled into a journey of self-discovery.
When you first open this book, you are met with Frenchie sitting on her front porch, watching her dead neighbor being carted into an ambulance. This scene sets the stage for the rest of the book. You see, Frenchie has a personal relationship with death. She was the last person to see Andy Cooper, a boy she majorly liked, before he killed himself. As you can imagine, that messes with a person. Frenchie begins to fade away. She has a hard time finding an interest in anything, and her lifelong friend, Joel, has a new girlfriend, Lily (who is totally sweet and great), taking up more and more of his time. This doesn’t leave Frenchie with many people to talk to unless, of course, you count Emily Dickinson’s headstone.
Sadly, it’s not the Emily Dickinson that we know and love, but it’s a girl who shares her name. This doesn’t stop Frenchie, though, from getting life advice from some choice Emily Dickinson excerpts.
So, with Joel slowly becoming less involved in her life and with her dealing with the pain of Andy’s death, Frenchie kind of, well, completely loses it. At Lily’s concert, Frenchie goes off on Joel, on Lily, on basically anyone in her general vicinity, and proceeds to storm out of the venue, leaving them in the dust.
But then, there’s Colin. What a guy. Honestly, I love his character. He takes Frenchie’s moment of craziness and decides to put himself out there for her. He basically goes, “Hey, I see that you’re a little nuts, but there’s something more to you. Let’s do this together.” He’s great. He follows Frenchie around the town as she relives the last night that she and Andy spent together before he committed suicide. Naturally, he’s more than a little concerned for her, but in the end he is just along for the ride, letting her do her thing. This includes palm readers, tattoos, melted ice cream, and near drowning. Guys, this book is great.
One of the things I love most about this novel is that, even though Colin goes with her, he never inhibits her. This story doesn’t belong to anyone else but Frenchie, and Sanchez does a fantastic job of conveying that. I loved the character development and how well depression was portrayed. There were a lot of times when I saw how much of a toll it took on Frenchie, either through her behavior or just her total disinterest in the things she used to enjoy. This story is about Frenchie’s journey of recovery and who she chooses to take with her. And, once again, it’s great.
If you’ve read this book, let me know what you thought! I’m very curious to see how you all felt about this book and Frenchie. She was an oddball, and I loved it!