Cover image for After the death of Anna Gonzales
Title:
After the death of Anna Gonzales
Author:
Fields, Terri, 1948-
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Henry Holt, 2002.
Physical Description:
100 pages ; 22 cm
Summary:
Poems written in the voices of forty-seven people, including students, teachers, and other school staff, record the aftermath of a high school student's suicide and the preoccupations of teen life.
Language:
English
Reading Level:
NP Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 3.9 1.0 66080.

Reading Counts RC High School 5.8 4 Quiz: 34859 Guided reading level: NR.
ISBN:
9780805071276
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

A powerful look at the effects of one girl's suicide on her high school

"I can feel
The whispering of the hallway walls
Growing louder as the groups gather.
Each clique adding to its morning input.

"Did you hear?"
"Who told you?"
"Do you think it's really true?"

New at this school,
I stand alone.
Watching . . ."

Brutally honest and authentic in tone, this collection of voices centers on the suicide of high school freshman Anna Gonzales. Each piece, read alone, portrays a classmate's or teacher's personal reaction to the loss, taken hard by some, by others barely noticed. Read together, the poems create a richly textured and moving testimony to the rippling effects of one girl's devastating choice. Terri Fields has written a thought-provoking, important work that resonates with both pain and hope. This is a book that will stay with readers long after they put it down.


Author Notes

Terri Fields is the author of fifteen books, including several middle-grade novels. She is also an educator, and was named--among other honors--Arizona's Teacher of the Year and selected to the All-USA Teacher Team. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 7^-12. Forty-seven poems, each one representing a different character's inner thoughts, make up this book about the effect a teen girl's suicide has on classmates and school staff. Some characters seem unaffected, absorbed in their own concerns; others are shocked, regretful, or moved to self-reflection. Anna's bewildered best friend blames herself; "once, we even invented our own language. / But somewhere, buried in all those words, / Must have been a meaning I didn't understand." The free-verse poems are sometimes quite moving, and the book's accessibility, teen-familiar language, situations, and even the stereotypic characters will attract teen readers. Anna's suicide note, appearing without context at the end of the book, raises provocative questions (it alludes to invisibility as the reason for Anna's death). Like Mel Glenn's books, this will inspire thought and discussion, though it's probably best used in the classroom setting, where it can be accompanied by the facts, resources, support, and context. Unfortunately, there's no mention of help lines or supporting material for troubled students, surprising given the gravity and complexity of the topic. --Shelle Rosenfeld


Publisher's Weekly Review

In Fields's (Danger in the Desert) 47 poems, five adults and 42 fellow high school students respond to the death of freshman Anna Gonzales, whose suicide note closes this disappointing volume. The first voice is that of a new student who overhears hushed conversations in the hallway; ironically, she offers readers more clues to what's going on than even Anna's best friend, Alexis ("Somewhere, buried in all those words,/ Must have been a meaning I didn't understand," Alexis says, referring to a language she and Anna had invented together). Many of the poems rely heavily on stereotypes: a cheerleader expresses her hope that Anna's death won't interfere with a homecoming rally; a smooth-talking student wonders, "A suicide./ What's my slant?" Other students seize Anna's death as an opportunity: a boy uses it as an excuse to avoid football practice, another student considers jockeying for Anna's seat in Spanish class, across from the boy she likes. The author does not describe the atmosphere at the high school nor reveal the manner of Anna's suicide. Most of the speakers are so self-absorbed that readers will likely see why Anna felt invisible ("I will slip away,/ Making little fuss./ .../ Never pretty or popular enough to matter," reads her suicide note), but because none of these poems penetrates any one character, Anna's death may, unfortunately, leave as little impact on readers as it does on her peers. Ages 12-17. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-9-Basketball games go on. Classes continue. Teens borrow their parents' cars. But all of this occurs without Anna Gonzales. When the high school freshman takes her own life, word spreads fast throughout the corridors and classrooms. Some students knew Anna, one sat behind her in math, one wonders why she never noticed Anna's pain. This series of loosely interwoven poems provides quick, yet insightful, glimpses into the minds, thoughts, and hearts of those left behind. Readers will first meet Anna's classmates and the adults around her, learning through firsthand views how a suicide impacts others. Athlete Damon Reingold posits, "The game doesn't always go your way./Forget fair./Feel forgotten./But damn it, Anna,/You don't stop playing." Carrie Sells wishes she could "wrap my arms/Around my world/So that I can get some control over it-." Tiffany Gibson uses whiskey to face her peers, and says, "-I die a little each day as I live through it." Only at the end do readers meet Anna through her suicide note. It's a quiet, angry, and honest missive, her good night to the world. If only she knew how it would affect others. Readers will gain some important insight into the serious issue of teen suicide through this treatment of the topic.-Sharon Korbeck, Waupaca Area Public Library, WI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.