Mathilda Savitch by Victor Lodato

Every once in a while, I get a hold delivered to my box at the library that I can’t remember requesting.  I know I read about Mathilda Savitch on a blog or end of year list, but I can’t remember where for the life of me.  Wherever it is that I read the review, I’m grateful that I decided to place a hold on it.

Mathilda Savitch is a young teenage girl who is trying to grieve for her older sister’s tragic death in the only way she knows how.  Unfortunately, her mother has disappeared behind an alcohol induced bubble where Mathilda cannot reach her.  Any efforts Mathilda makes to try to remember her sister are stopped by her father for fear of upsetting her mother.  There are some truly heartbreaking scenes where you want to reach in the book and shake sense into her mother.  Because she is forced to grieve alone, she becomes obsessed with the details of her sister’s death.  Her search for answers takes her on a journey where she is surprised by what she discovers.

The book also deals with the fact that Mathilda has grown up in a world where terrorism is always on the news.  She was young during the 9/11 attacks and is used to a constant fear that there could be another attack.  At one point in the book, she tries to bunker down in her basement in case of a bomb or other attack.

The dark subject matter of this book is made much more palatable by the precocious voice of Mathilda.  Lodato really found a good voice for his narrator.  He did use “Dawson’s Creek” and “Gilmore Girls” writing where the character speaks well above the level of her age, but this adds to the tone of the novel rather than detracting from it.

I highly recommend this book to anyone and look forward to reading more by Victor Lodato in the future.

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