Monday, August 26, 2013

Death, Dickinson and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia by Jenny Torres Sanchez Review and Interview

Death, Dickinson and the Demented Life of Frenche Garcia by Jenny Torres Sanchez
Publisher Running Press Kids May 28, 2013
Available Now
Paperback 272 Pages
Received finished copy for review from publisher
To buy links-
Author Links-
First is my Interview with Jenny Torres Sanchez about herself and her novel.

1) In your book, Death Dickinson and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia, Frenchie and her friends hang out at a coffee shop called Harold's. Where did you hang out with your friends at their age?
We hung out in parks, downtown, and coffee shops too, actually. There was a very cool little coffee house called Yab Yums in downtown Orlando where we used to go a lot.  It later became Harold and Maude’s Espresso Bar. It no longer exists (I think it’s some sort of club now, not sure), but I’ll forever be grateful it did when I was a teen. They had local art on the walls and it was just a very cool, relaxed kind of place.  I didn't learn until later when I was in college (taking a course called Death and Dying) that Harold and Maude is also a movie about a boy obsessed with death. You should check it out, if only for the opening scene (watch it to the end). Frenchie and Harold would definitely be friends.  
2) Frenchie has a fixation with Emily Dickinson and death in the novel. Did you have any fixations when you were in high school?
Oh, I was pretty obsessed with music and death myself. Music just seemed to express my feelings and mood in a way I couldn’t. I found a lot of solace and comfort and inspiration in it then and still do now. And I’ve always been intrigued by death and grief.  It’s just so unknown and mysterious and something we will all experience, but of which none of us have any true knowledge. 

3) Frenchie reads the obituaries and even sleeps in the cemetery down the street from her house. Have you ever spent the night in a cemetery? 
Oh, definitely not! I could never sleep in a cemetery. I’d die of a heart attack as soon as it started getting dark.  I'm very easily spooked and the ability to spook myself is comical. I’ve run out of my house before convinced it was haunted. 

4) Joel and Frenchie have had plans to go to Chicago and live in an apartment together for awhile now, but things happen to change that. Have you ever had a friend let you down like that? 
No, but I let down a friend like that once. One summer, I was supposed to go to Hungary with one of my friends. We had tickets and everything. But I backed out at the last minute because I met this awesome guy and wanted to spend the summer with him instead.  It worked out. I married him. 

5) Frenchie is an awesome nickname! Did you have any cool nicknames?
I wish. No, my first attempt at a nickname was Lizzie because my middle name is Elizabeth, but it didn’t stick. Then I tried to make everyone call me Jet (my initials) but that didn’t work either. So, I pretty much have always been and will always be just Jenny. (Extended information about my name on my website).

6) Tattoos are a part of the story. Do you have any tattoos or what would you get if you were to get one and what would it mean to you?
I do have a tattoo. It’s a yin yang sign because I’m a huge believer in the idea of opposing forces in the world that work together as a whole to balance things. For me, specifically, it’s a reminder of how nothing is all good or all bad. It helps me see or remember the good in bad times and helps me stay grounded in good times. 

7) Frenchie has been devastated by the night with Andy. Do you think if she could relive that night, she'd choose not to be with him?
I think at some point, Frenchie would choose not to be with him, like, when she’s really consumed by her confusion and depression and grief. But by the end of the book, I think Frenchie realizes that there’s a reason she and Andy had that one night together. Maybe she offered some sort of comfort in his last hours, even if she didn’t know it. And she recognizes that in the end, that night changed her, in a crucial way, in a way that made her better even if it was painful (as bad things often have the potential to do). So I think once she gets to this point, she can accept that their paths crossed and wouldn’t change it. But at the beginning, in her anger, yeah she probably wishes she’d never known Andy Cooper. 

8) If Andy had left a note for Frenchie what would it have said?
I don’t think Andy really thought of the impact his suicide would have on others, especially not Frenchie. But if he did, and had a chance to leave a message for Frenchie, I think he’d keep it simple. I don’t think he could say anything more than:
I’m sorry. But thank you, for being there, and for one cool night. 

Thank you so much for being here and answering my questions!

For my review-

Frenchie is obsessed with death. And she's depressed. And who wouldn't be? Her long time crush took his life after spending his last night visiting weird places with her. Does she take it personally? Did he choose to spend his last night with her because she was special? Or did she just happen to be there and had a car? What was that night all about? And how does she get past it? And why don't any of her friends see that something is wrong with her? Why are they so self involved that they can't see she's suffering? And why can't she tell them what happened?

Lots of questions, some answers. This isn't exactly an uplifting novel, but it isn't depressing. It's just a novel about life. Sometimes, shit happens. And sometimes, you just have to figure out how to get past it and go on.
Sometimes, you don't get the answers you need, but you find understanding anyway. Andy and Frenchie spent an incredible night together. They talked and laughed and she thought "Finally, he sees me. We're gonna be together." So when she wakes up the next morning, she's expecting a day full of  "happy, happy, happy!" Instead, she wakes up to the news that Andy was found dead that morning. Frenchie goes from 60 to 0 in 6 seconds flat. She hits a brick wall and just can't get back up again. We follow Frenchie through her attempt to swim through her feelings of depression and confusion.  She makes several huge blunders, not that everyone else smells like a rose, but Frenchie is prickly to the point of being mean and rude.

The question is, did I like Frenchie? And the answer is yes. How can I not feel for her? She's gotten the ultimate rejection whatever Andy meant it to be, for Frenchie, it feels like rejection. She thought the night with Andy meant something good was happening in her life. And Andy ended his life. And changed Frenchie's forever. She is stuck. Her application to art school was rejected. Her best friend has dumped her for a girl. She's got nothing. Except a gravestone in the cemetery down the street that bears the name "Emily Dickinson" (not THE Emily Dickinson) and music. I loved Frenchie's brutal and I do mean brutal honesty at times. I'm sure she was lashing out, but she did feel what she was saying. I like a character that doesn't mince words. She had a mother and father that were present if a little clueless. They worried about her. And I liked Colin, the bouncer at the music club that eventually helps Frenchie get through it all. I thought he was kind of creepy and lecherous at first, but he turns out to be one of the good ones.

I loved the journey, loved the characters, and I loved Jenny Sanchez's writing style. The dialogue was sharp and smart with a bit of humor, a bit of bite, and a bit of philosophical thought. Frenchie wasn't warm and fuzzy but a very believable character. The various friends are also richly developed and give even more depth to the story. The setting feels like the author lived there, is describing her old neighborhood. And the story is about growing up and moving on. Stuff happens. That's what Death, Dickinson and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia is all about.

I received a copy of this novel from the publicist for review. I did not receive compensation for this review. The opinions expressed are my own.


  1. SOunds like quite the journey and great characters to feel and cheer for.

    1. Definitely a great journey for all the characters. Even her friends grow through the experience.

  2. This sounds like an interesting read, definitely different. I can only imagine who Frenchie must feel, that would be tough to take and how do you get past something like that? This would be a book I would like to check out sometime. Loved the interview as well, especially the part about her backing out on her trip to Hungary good thing it worked out and she married the guy!

    1. It was really good. You can feel Frenchie's despair throughout the book and then her hope at the end. It's a good ending and unexpected from where and how she gets it.

      yeah, definitely good that the Hungary trip turned out like it did. Good reason to stay!!

  3. This sounds so emotional. It also sounds very interesting. Oh I know I would feel for Frenchie. Loved the interview as well. It gave me a bit more insight into the book as well. Brilly post!!

    1. Thank you my faithful friend! I got some insight into the book from the interview. I was afraid all my questions were all about death and gruesome, but not so. Always helps to have a dynamic author to answer the questions.


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