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Because of the Sun
     

Because of the Sun

3.0 1
by Jenny Torres Sanchez
 

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From the backyards of suburban Florida to the parched desert of New Mexico, Because of the Sun explores the complexity of family, the saving grace of friendship, and the healing that can begin when the truth is brought to light.

Dani learned to tolerate her existence in suburban Florida with her brash and seemingly unloving mother by embracing

Overview

From the backyards of suburban Florida to the parched desert of New Mexico, Because of the Sun explores the complexity of family, the saving grace of friendship, and the healing that can begin when the truth is brought to light.

Dani learned to tolerate her existence in suburban Florida with her brash and seemingly unloving mother by embracing the philosophy Why care? It will only hurt. So when her mother is killed in a sudden and violent manner, Dani goes into an even deeper protection mode, total numbness. It’s the only way she can go on.

But when Dani chooses The Stranger by Albert Camus as summer reading for school, it feels like fate. The main character’s alienation after his mother’s death mirrors her own.

Dani’s life is thrown into further turmoil when she is sent to New Mexico to live with an aunt she never knew she had. The awkwardness between them is palpable. To escape, Dani takes long walks in the merciless heat. One day, she meets Paulo, who understands how much Dani is hurting. Although she is hesitant at first, a mutual trust and affection develops between them. And as she and her aunt begin to connect, Dani learns about her mother’s past. Forgiving isn’t easy, but maybe it’s the only way to move forward.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An absorbing page-turner, equal parts light and dark, and filled with the sweetest, swooniest ache. I couldn't put it down. Everyone needs to read Jenny Torres Sanchez. Now."—JENNIFER NIVEN, New York Times bestselling author of All the Bright Places

"Sanchez expertly conjures the eerie sense of being a stranger in one's own life."—Michael L. Printz Honor Winner JENNY HUBBARD

"[An] emotional, beautiful novel about loss and forgiveness, love and hate."—LAUREN GIBALDI, author of Autofocus

"The author's dreamlike language is at once beautiful and brutal. This lyrical coming-of-age story effectively explores the complicated nature of love and grief."—Kirkus Reviews

"With well-integrated story lines and fully developed characters, this title explores tragic loss and the human ability to overcome it. . . . while vivid descriptions of the New Mexico landscape immerse readers in the setting. An engaging tale."—SLJ

“A beautiful and moving tale that accurately captures the complications and dysfunctions of different families and examines how to slowly rise above the past and create a future.”—Booklist

"Strange and stunning. You've never read anything like this."—JESSICA MARTINEZ, author of Kiss Kill Vanish

School Library Journal
11/01/2016
Gr 9 Up—This story shows how two losses, one past and one present, affect the life of high school senior Dani Falls. After her mother dies in a tragic bear attack, Dani is forced to move across the country to New Mexico to live with a previously unknown aunt. She deals with her feelings of detachment and grief by reading Albert Camus's The Stranger and walking in the desert. As she gets to know her formerly estranged aunt and her new neighbors, Dani learns more about her mother's past, which helps her to come to terms with her own. With well-integrated story lines and fully developed characters, this title explores tragic loss and the human ability to overcome it. The occasional strong language is authentically woven into the narrative, while the author's vivid descriptions of the New Mexico landscape immerse readers in the setting. VERDICT An engaging tale that will appeal to fans of darker contemporary novels.—Tegan Anclade, Lake Villa District Library, IL
Kirkus Reviews
2016-10-11
A teen girl finds solace in The Stranger, the New Mexico desert, and a blossoming romance as she struggles to grieve the death of her emotionally abusive mother. Dani Falls' provocative and cruel single mother, Ruby, is literally mauled to death by a bear in their Florida backyard. After the newsmaking violent death, a social worker informs the white 17-year-old that she's to live with a maternal aunt she's never met in a small New Mexico border town. Accompanied by only a copy of Albert Camus' The Stranger and an obsessive fear that the euthanized bear is going to return for her too, Dani resides in virtual silence, taking long, dangerous walks in the desert sun. Then she stumbles upon Paulo, the movie-loving Mexican-American gas station cashier who helps her, looks out for her, and introduces her to his wise and nurturing grandmother. She starts school. She speaks to her aunt, who shares the tragic secrets of Ruby's past. Although Dani's connection to Meursault, Camus' protagonist, is a major theme, readers don't need to know anything about the French classic to follow Dani's journey. The author's dreamlike language is at once beautiful and brutal, capturing the lows and highs of Dani's journey to figure out how to move forward knowing she both loved and hated her mother. This lyrical coming-of-age story effectively explores the complicated nature of love and grief. (author's note) (Fiction. 14-18)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780399551451
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
01/03/2017
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
1,298,830
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)
Lexile:
HL640L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

Read an Excerpt

What I remember is the shell-pink nail polish. Even as I looked at it, her pinky finger dangling with that frosty color, I wondered, Why this? Why am I noticing this?

It’s strange how your mind can split into so many different bits and pieces, slivers of it sending a thousand different messages. Scream. Run. Or Careful, careful, don’t startle the bear. Other parts recall a television show about worst-case scenarios that tell you Don’t make eye contact, play dead, even as your lungs send a distress signal and your brain reminds you to Breathe.

Now a part insists She’s dead. Look at the blood. Another insists She can’t be. Another laughs at the absurdity and assures you Don’t worry, none of this is real.

And then there’s the part that registers shell-pink nail polish. Delicate and pretty and coating her nails perfectly, making them look like seashells. You can hardly take your eyes off it, even as another part takes in

her dangling pinky,

the look on her face,

how her body is sprawled out,

the pink of the pool water,

and the bear . . .

She asked me if I wanted to sit out near the pool with her and I didn’t. I told her it was too hot, and besides it was the last two weeks of school and I had end-of-year exams to study for. But she didn’t even let me finish before she started shaking her head and talking over me. God, Dani. Have some fucking fun for once, would you? she said as she splashed some vodka into her lemonade.

But I did have exams. And it was too hot. It was always too hot. And even if it wasn’t officially summer yet, it was always summer in Florida, the sun was always blinding, and we, me and her, we were always like this. I couldn’t think of a worse way to spend the afternoon than with my mother, telling me all the ways I was stunted or terrible or not like her.

I looked at her from the corner of my eye, taking in another of her barely there bikinis and too-tan skin.

“You’re going to get skin cancer,” I told her because I couldn’t help myself.

She laughed, shook her head. “Well, we all die of something, Dani. Who the hell cares if it’s skin cancer or something else.” She took a sip of her drink, then flipped her long blond hair with hardly a glance in my direction, the way she always did when she was done with me. When she couldn’t care less what I said next.

I don’t know why I hated her. Or I do know, but the reasons, they don’t translate to words. All I know is she made it hard to breathe, and a tightness would shoot across my chest, from one shoulder to another, and press down on me. And somehow I hated myself. Just because I was her daughter. Her terrible daughter, as she liked to remind me.

I watched her open the sliding glass door that led to the pool and the patio and then close it behind her. I watched her untie her top and lie down on her stomach, taking her time to get comfortable even though the yard wasn’t fenced in. Even though the neighbors on either side could look out and see her and often did. She knew it, too. She reveled in it.

I watched her. I watched every move she made. And I thought, I’ll never be like you.

I waited to see if you would look at me. But you closed your eyes.

One of my tests she always failed.

So I went to my room, that empty, self-satisfied feeling enveloping me in a cloud of self-hatred. Because, oh, how you made me hate myself. You made me want to cover up from head to toe, wish to be anything but your daughter. I flopped on my bed, pulling out from under me notes and study guides that were now useless because my head was too full with you. With anger and rage for you. With how you shoved your way into my every thought when all I wanted was to get away from you.

I plugged in my headphones. Turned the music up so loud it hurt my head and left no room for you. Turned it up so I could be anywhere but there. Turned it up so I’d forget about school and you half-dressed in the backyard for all the world to see.

I guess that’s why I didn’t hear you screaming.

Meet the Author

JENNY TORRES SANCHEZ is a full-time writer and former English teacher. She was born in Brooklyn, New York, but has lived on the border of two worlds her whole life. She lives in Orlando, Florida, with her husband and their children. Because of the Sun is her third novel. Visit her online at jennytorressanchez.com and on Facebook and follow her on Twitter at @jetchez.

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Because of the Sun 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
ruthsic 4 months ago
Because of the Sun is a complex novel about family, dissociation, and toxic relationships. Told primarily from the POV of Dani, a girl who has had an abusive upbringing thanks to a mother who seemed to hate her, it tells the story of a girl who doesn't feel like she has a place in the world. Before you jump to "ah, another angst novel", it is to be noted that this is a character who has dissociated from the world and whose favorite way of getting numb is getting a sunstroke on a semi-regular basis. The book doesn't shy from displaying toxic parenting, whether it is the one from Dani's mother, or from Dani's grandfather to his two daughters: the theme is to connect two people who were hurting the same, in this case, Dani and her aunt Shelley. There is also a lot of symbolism going on, with the bear and the constant hallucinations and dreams - it was past my bedtime when I was reading it, so forgive me for not going deep into it. But the fact is that it detracts from the main storyline a lot - it is written well when it comes to being in the mind of the character, but it suffers from an imbalance when it comes to progressing the story. The romance, too, seemed superfluous, and I felt it was there for the sake of it. Overall, I would recommend this book if you love emotional stories about family and healing.