After the Death of Anna Gonzales

After the Death of Anna Gonzales

4.2 11
by Terri Fields
     
 

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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?"

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Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
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 Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
High-school classmates react to a teen suicide in this novel-in-verse. Educator and author Fields (Missing in the Mountains, not reviewed, etc.) portrays each character’s thoughts through a single free-verse poem. Lauren, the best friend, recalls studying for math tests with Anna and thinks, "I know I’ll re-examine the variables, / And reanalyze the unknowns—maybe forever—/ But / It won’t matter. / Because, Anna— / I know I’ll never figure out Y. / Y you didn’t want to live— / And Y I never noticed." Shannon, a classmate who’s always known Anna, though never well, recalls all the classes they’ve been in together and thinks, "But I guess lost in all that information, / No one ever taught Anna how to live, / And for sure, / No one taught me how to feel / About finding out how she died." The poems are natural and direct, and portray a high-school setting well, showing a diversity of experiences. Unfortunately, the voice in each poem is so similar that the characters never take on their own life, but retain the author’s voice throughout. Even so, for Mel Glenn fans, or as a resource for dealing with teen suicide, this will be useful in most YA library collections. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781466859524
Publisher:
Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date:
12/10/2013
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
112
Sales rank:
1,021,659
File size:
245 KB
Age Range:
12 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

After the Death of Anna Gonzales


By Terri Fields

Henry Holt and Company

Copyright © 2002 Terri Fields
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-5952-4



CHAPTER 1

    Lisa McNair

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

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


    New at this school,
    I stand alone.

    Watching ...
    A group of girls plot
    For Homecoming only days away.

    "He might ask ..."
      "Try to run into him."
        "No one is wearing purple."
    "But if Julio goes with Gina, then ..."


    Seeing ...
    A brown-eyed boy aim a slight nod and slow smile
    At a green-eyed girl.
    Who seems not to see him but somehow moves closer.

    "Hey."
      "Hey yourself."


    Hearing ...
    A boy beg for finished algebra homework to copy.
    Hoping someone will save him.

    "No time to do it."
      "Impossible anyway."
    "Teacher's a witch."


    My first week at this school.
    Seeing but not really being seen.
    Trying to figure out how I will fit in.

    Listening to the rhythms of this new place.
    Already I am able to pick up some familiar refrains.

    Yet sandwiched among this morning's murmurs
    Today's hallway hints at something more horrible.

    "I heard ..."
      "Who was it?"
    "How'd she do it?"
      "Wonder if it hurt?"
    "Anyone know why?"


    The gossip gets grabbed by Senior Square.

    "Found out it was just some freshman."
      "Did she leave a note?"
    "Don't know."
      "Probably not true."
    "Stupid."

    "I think about it once in ..."


    The blaring of the bell.

      Lockers slam.
      Students scatter.

    And I start another day at this new school ... wondering.


    Principal Barron

    Thirty years in education.
    I've broken up fights.
    Fired a teacher.
    Failed a student.
    But not this.
    This is too much to ask.

    "Volleyball practice has been moved to 5:00 P.M.
      The chess club will meet today in
        Mr. Malkin's room."

    Thirty years in education.
    I've learned school law.
    Listened to angry parents.
    Located lost school buses.
    But not this.
    This is too much to ask.

    "Congratulations to the JV football team on last
      night's 14?0 win against the Raiders.
        Student Council will be selling spirit T-shirts
          during both lunch hours all week."

    To make a difference.
    To better kids' lives.
    That was why I went into education.
    So how does this happen?
    How do I ...

    "Mr. Barron, announcements are almost over.
      Do you still have a special?"

    I trudge toward the camera.

    "And now for a special from our principal."

    Words caught in unwilling voice.

    "I am sorry to tell you of the death
      of one of our students."

    Must continue.
    Rumors always worse than truth.

    "Anna Gonzales took her life last night.
    Our sympathies to her family and friends.
      Grief counselors will be available all day."

    Robotlike move off camera.
    As a chirpy voice concludes,

    "And those are today's announcements.
      Have a nice day."


    Damon Reingold

    The game doesn't always go your way.
    I know.
    You can go to every practice
    Even when your shoulder aches
      Your ankle throbs
      Your homework waits.
    You can do 100 hand-offs
      1,000 free throws
      10,000 reps
    And still sit on the bench
      While
    You watch Darrith Evans
      Slack off
      Skip practice
      Showboat for Debbie
    And still be part of the
      Starting five.

    The game doesn't always go your way.
      Forget fair.
      Feel forgotten.
    But damn it, Anna,

      You don't stop playing.


    Manuel Ramirez

    I'm on my way to class.
    Tardy bell hasn't even rung.
    When Mrs. Bernstein, the scholarship aide,
    Stops me and calls me into her office.

    "Manuel," she says, "do you think of yourself as mature?"
      "I guess ..."
    "Do you think of yourself as intelligent?"
      I shrug — "My grades are pretty good."
    "Do you think you're a good representative of this school?"
      I have no idea what she's getting at.

    "Well, we do," she continues.
    School announcements start.
    Mrs. Bernstein turns them off.
    "What I'm trying to tell you is
    That's why the faculty submitted your name
    For the National Future Leader Award."

      "The what?" I ask.

    "Remember I asked you for your government essay?
    We submitted it and five faculty recommendations.
    I didn't say anything to you because
    We've never had a winner here before ...

    "But, Manuel, you won!" she says.
    "You're going to Washington, D.C., for a whole week, all expenses paid."

      "Wow!" I manage to croak.
      I've never even been out of this city before.

    "Congratulations!" She smiles and hands me a stack of papers.

    In a daze, I walk into my first-hour class,
    Put the pass on Mrs. Johnson's desk,
    And feel my face flaunting an ever-growing grin
    As I begin what has already been
    The best day of my life.


    Kathleen Hays

    My brother was seven
    When they told us the bad news:
    It was a tumor
    That had bloomed in his body
    Like a weed.

    Seven surgeries, and still he smiled.
    We had his eighth birthday party in the hospital.
    He said he could feel that he was almost well.
    And we celebrated.

    At nine, they said new cells had sprouted.
    The chemo was strong.
    The cancer was stronger.

    But ... in spite of the pills and the pain,
    In spite of the surgeries and suffering,
    He chose life.

    And you, Anna, who had health,
    Chose death.

    How could you?


    Jason Foley

    "Life's rough, and then you die."

    That's what the sign above the restaurant sink
    Says in big red letters.
    Only there's a grease spot that covers the i.

    I work kitchen clean-up
    Illegally because I'm too young,
    But they pay me in cash
    And I hide most of it from my dad
    So he won't drink it away.

    It took me seventeen days and three hours
    To earn enough
    For my fine new shoes.
    But they were definitely worth it.

    I don't know who stole 'em — yet.
    But I will.
    Believe it.

    And when I do,
    I'll take care of things.
    Know it.

    Meanwhile, I work and watch the big red letters
    That say
    "Life's rough, and then you die,"
    And I think,
    Not me.
      Not yet.


    Francine Bradishio

    I will not talk when the teacher is talking.
    I will not talk when the teacher is talking.
    I will not talk when the teacher is talking.
    I will not talk when the teacher is talking.
    I will not talk when the teacher is talking.
    I will not talk when the teacher is talking.
    I will not talk when the teacher is talking.
    I will not talk when the teacher is talking.
    I will not talk when the teacher is talking.
    I will not talk when the teacher is talking.
    I will not talk when the teacher is talking.
    I will not talk when the teacher is talking.
    I will not talk when the teacher is talking.
    I will not talk when the teacher is talking.
    I will not talk when the teacher is talking.
    I will not talk when the teacher is talking.


    My wrist hurts.
    My thumb is numb.
    And the pain in my fingers is fierce.

    God ... I still have 434 sentences to do before fourth hour.

    When Mrs. Ebert assigned them yesterday,
    She said, "I hope this teaches you a lesson."

    And it has.

    There's no way I'm getting in trouble for talking in English again.
    As soon as I get to class today, I'm going straight to sleep.


    Ricky Stevens

    Me.
    The one
    Who always does just what adults expect.

    Referred to as
      Responsible.
        Obedient.
          Boring.

      Until today.
    When I took the checkered flag.
    And left behind Mom and Dad's
    Lists of "notes for when we're out of town."
    Which, by the way, never actually said,
    "You cannot take Dad's new Corvette!"

    Now, as I sit through these never-ending announcements,
    I can still feel my hands gripping the wheel.
    My foot flooring the gas.

    I'll be free again at three,
    To ease back into the soft black leather seats

    And downshift into the winds of
      Unpredictable.
        Incompliant.
          Exciting.

    Wonder if I should offer Lynn a ride?


    Lauren Reynolds

    Since September,
    I sat one seat behind Anna in algebra.
    Passed papers to her every day.
    Studied for tons of tests together.

    Though it often seemed impossible,
    Eventually,
    We always found the unknown for X.

    But not this time.
    This equation
    Bounces against my brain.
    And sneers at all attempted answers.

    I know I'll re-examine the variables,
    And reanalyze the unknowns, maybe forever.
    But
    It won't matter.

    Because, Anna —
    I know I'll never figure out Y.

    Y
you didn't want to live —
    And Y I never noticed.


    Debbie Hill

    We agreed.
    Together, all ten.
    We'd stand in a line,
    And on the downbeat we all kick at exactly the same height.
    But not Emily.

    She always makes sure her leg lifts a little higher than mine.
    Does she think I don't notice?
    She says she just doesn't know why
    Her sweater fits so perfectly,
    And wonders why mine looks a little baggy.
    The answer is easy.
    She shrank hers until it became a second skin.

    She thinks she's flashy.
    I think she's trashy.

    She does her high kicks for Darrith.
    Let her.
    I don't dance for him or anyone else.

    Music just makes me want to move.
    The downbeat begins,

    And the adrenaline rushes.
    The crowd becomes a blur.

      Oops, the announcements ended.
    So how come everyone's just sitting here so quietly?
    It's only English.
    Boring, but
    It's not like somebody died or anything.


Darrith Evans

I can picture it all now:

Me: Coach, I'm sorry, but I just don't feel right about practicing today.

Coach: But we've got a big game tomorrow.

Me: Coach, I won't let you down.
I'll be there.
You can count on me.
But today ...
I just can't —
I mean, Anna ...

Coach: I didn't know you knew her.

Me: (looking down at the floor — catch in my voice)
I do have a life outside of basketball.

Coach: (putting his hand on my shoulder)
I'm sorry, son.
Skip the practice.
Go be with the Gonzales family.

    Anna Gonzales, I never knew you.

    Although you were probably in the stands
    Watching me play.

    I'm sorry you took your life.
    But I can't get it back for you.
    So you might as well help me.

    See, I just cannot make Coach understand
    That unlike most
    Of the guys on our team
    I don't need all these practice sessions.
    I always come through in the games.
    So why can't Coach just let me be?


    Andrea Brensk

    In seventh-hour Spanish,
    Anna Gonzales sat in the second row, second seat.
    How do I know?
    Every day, I wished I could trade places with her.

    Spanish is the only class I have with Chad Alexander.
    That most gorgeous and very shy guy.
    I don't think Anna ever noticed him.
    Even though in group work
      She always got paired with Chad.

    Me —
    I'm stuck on the other side of the room.
      With god-awful Greg Mendez.
      And his ox-snorting laugh.

    So I'm wondering if today is too soon
    To ask Ms. Alvarez if I could switch seats.
    I mean ...
    I don't want anyone to think I'm insensitive.

    But I don't want to miss the moment.
    And have someone else sneak into the seat that should be mine.

    I know that I could find the right language
    For me and Chad.
    If I could just improve our geography.


    Chad Alexander

      Anna Gonzales ...

    There's an Anna in my Spanish class.
    A million times we said "¿Cómo te llamas?"
    But we never answered with last names.
    Still, somehow I think it might be her.

      Suicide ...

    Anna seemed normal enough,
    But how much can you know
    When working together to conjugate
    The present tense of hablar?

    If it is the same Anna, her seat's gonna be empty.
    Not just absent empty — but forever empty.
    Weird.
      Very weird.
        Too weird.

    Maybe Mark could move into that seat.
    Then we could do Spanish skits about baseball.
    "Uno, dos, tres strikes and you vamos from the old ball game."
    It would make seventh hour más bueno.

    Otherwise, this girl Andrea may try to move there.
    Fourteen of her friends have told me she likes me
    A lot.
    She sits in the back of the room, but she's always
    Giggling and staring at me.
    I pretend not to notice.

    She'd be better off with Greg.
    Geeks like those two
    Really should stick together.

      Actually, I hope ...

    Anna will be in her seat seventh hour
    And life will go on, just like it's supposed to.

    Mitch S. Foster

    I guess Anna didn't find out that you could opt out
    Without really leaving.
    I did
      A long time ago.

    The rest of my family is the roaring center of success.
    And the model for superstress.

    My dad is the proud owner of four fine classic cars,
    Which no one ever drives.
    In number, they match his four heart attacks.

    My mom is #1 in sales
    Again.
    And my older sister's straight A's are delivered
    As expected.

    My family feels that
    The entrance to our house is
    The driveway to the top.


    BELIEVE!
    ACHIEVE!


    And I —
    Realizing I could never compete on any other level —
    Have become their number one failure.

    Actually, I'm very good at doing nothing.
    And so, declaring my own sort of victory,
    I long ago opted out of their high-stakes game.


    Andy Gotchalder

    Get out our homework?
    You gotta be kidding, Mrs. Johnson!
    How can we just go over algebra
    Like nothin' happened or anything.
    Shouldn't we be like ... I don't know,
    Shouldn't we be quiet or something this hour?

    Yeah, well, I am a sensitive guy,
    I just get a bad rap.
    Maybe we could put on music and think ...
    You know ...
    I've got a good CD.

    What?
      Turn in our homework and then we can
      Have time to reflect?
    My homework?
      Well, I don't have it.
    Where is it?
      Actually, I didn't do it.
    Why not?
      Ah, come on, Mrs. Johnson, you know, last night was Thursday.
      And that's way too close to the weekend for homework.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from After the Death of Anna Gonzales by Terri Fields. Copyright © 2002 Terri Fields. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

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.


Terri Fields is the author of more than a dozen books, including middle-grade novels such as Holdup and After the Death of Anna Gonzales. 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.

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After the Death of Anna Gonzales 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I would say ¿Terri Fields has done it again!¿ but After the Death of Anna Gonzales is the first book I¿ve read by this author. Terri Fields, author of more then 20 books, has crafted a wonderful book. Personally, I couldn¿t think of a better book to read and/or review. This book reminds me of myself at times¿Feeling alone, wondering what things would be like without me, sometimes even sometimes thoughts about what it would be like to cut myself, but then I remember that even though it may be my last resort, suicide is not the answer. Apparently, Anna Gonzales disagreed with me. At some point in our lives, I¿m pretty sure we all have asked the classic question, ¿What would the world be like without me?¿ Well, Anna Gonzales didn¿t only ask that question, she took action. This fictional YA (Young Adult) book is a collection of poems written by 42 of Anna Gonzales¿ classmates and 7 of her teachers after she takes her life one dark and stormy night. Everybody expresses their feelings on this matter through their personal poems. Anna¿s coach wrote The game doesn't always go your way, Forget fair. Feel forgotten. But damn it, Anna, You don't stop playing. There is nobody that isn¿t affected by Anna¿s choice to end her world. No body can comprehend why this poor soul was so tortured that she just had to take her own life? At least, not until they read Anna¿s poem, expressing her feelings and her side of the story. After the Death of Anna Gonzales is a heart-warming, tear-jerking book that will make any suicidal teenager realize what pain taking their life would be to others. Still having those thoughts about taking your life, ending your world, or to just say it plainly, committing suicide? Well, maybe after you read this book, you¿ll change your mind.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I first found this book while looking for something else in the public library in my town. The title caught my eye becuase one of my friends has the same problem as Anna had, she kind of wants to kill herself. This book made me cry and laugh all at once. All the monologues are so touching and compelling. WHen I got to the end, with Anna's note to the world, where she says that no one will care if she dies, I got so angry. Because Id just read about 20 people who cared deeply about her. It really affected me. Ive shown it to some of my teachers at school and to my friends. I cant stop rereading it. Its just such an amazing book! Ive read it at least 25 times already and I dont intend to stop. I think this book is truly a masterpiece and would encourage anyone to read it. ITS WONDERFUL!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has been one of the books that has touched me the most. I love it it really put me to think. I use to think that suicide would just hurt me but the book showed me that it also hurts the people who 'love' me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book tuched me in many different ways i hope it can help some one out there relize that there are people that care about you and if you think that no one dose then your wrong.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After The Death Of Anna Gonzales was the best book i ever read. Its all about people in the schools reactions to hearing about the suicide of a student Anna Gonzales. Its an easy read and it teachs you alot about teenage problems and how they effect people.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought the book should have had more to say about alot of things..In my opinion it was ok but i wish it had more of a closure at the end of the story...MORE DETALES
Guest More than 1 year ago
when you read these poems, it gets you thinking of what would happen if someone in your school commited suicide. a lot of these poems have interesting messages, even the ones that dont have to do that much with anna. there is a hidden message in each poem and it gets you thinking. its a good book, i liked it, so i hope you will too
Guest More than 1 year ago
I felt this book showed a great view on how everyone in the schools look at the death of a classmate. It does effect everyone in one way or another. Shown through classmates poetry, statements are strong and powerful.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i wished they would say more on the people closest to anna. i never felt like i new her enough to feel sad for the situation. it didnt take long to read but i wanted to know more.