Grief Girlby Erin Vincent
Imagine what that would be like. Then read this book and find out.
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Imagine that you're going through one of the hardest parts of your life—being a teenager—when your parents are killed in a horrific car crash. Now you, your 17-year-old sister, and your three-year-old brother are on your own.
Imagine what that would be like. Then read this book and find out.
Read an Excerpt
October 23, 1983
It’s getting late and Mum and Dad aren’t back yet. They said they’d be home before dark. So where are they?
I should be happy. Even though I’m fourteen, I’ve never been allowed to stay alone for more than a few hours, and tonight I’ve got the whole house to myself. I can blast my music, watch whatever I want on TV, raid the refrigerator. But something doesn’t feel right.
This isn’t like Mum. She’s the kind of mother who’ll call and tell me the car has broken down or she’s caught up talking to someone, or that she and Dad have stopped for something to eat. She’s the kind of mother who worries too much and calls too often.
Maybe I misunderstood. Maybe they said they’d be late?
No, I remember Mum walking over to me on the sofa at lunchtime, kissing me and saying they’d definitely be home before dark.
They were going to visit Nanny’s grave in the country, dropping my little brother, Trent, off at Evelyn’s house on the way.
So where are they? It’s seven o’clock already.
I’ll call Evelyn. She’s Mum’s best friend. “Hi, it’s Erin. Have Mum and Dad come to pick up Trent?”
“Not yet. So I get some extra time with him. He’s so sweet!”
“Good,” I say, distracted. “Um, Evelyn? I’m worried.”
But Evelyn tells me not to be. “They probably just got held up, Erin. I’ll have them call you as soon as they get here.”
I hang up. Maybe I am overreacting. Mum says I’m a worrywart, but it’s her fault. She’s the one always going on about wanting to die before us kids. Now she’s got me thinking the worst.
Maybe I should do my tapestry to take my mind off things. I’ve just learned embroidery, and I’m surprising Mum with a tapestry for Christmas. I know it’s kind of geeky, but I can’t help it. I love how the picture emerges with each stitch. When it comes to her birthday and Christmas, Mum always says, “Just make me something, darling.” But I never do.
My sister, Tracy, rolled her eyes when she found out. “You’re such a dork. Why do you have to sit around reading all the time? And now tapestry? You’re hopeless.” Tracy is four years older than I am. We’re very different. She says I’m the biggest nerd there is. But I wish she were here now. She’s been at her best friend’s house all day; they were going clubbing tonight.
It’s officially dark. I can see all the neighborhood lights on through our sheer green and cream striped curtains. I probably should get up and turn some lights on besides the reading lamp next to me, but I can’t move. I don’t know why, I just can’t. It’s like I’m stuck on the living room sofa.
Just keep stitching and stop it with the stupid thoughts.
I figure if I’m here doing this for Mum, she’ll be all right, it will keep her safe. I won’t look up. I won’t even raise my head. I’ll position myself so I can’t even see the mirrors behind Dad’s bar or the black hole that was the dining room half an hour ago or the kitchen with the echo of the humming fridge making it all seem even emptier. I’ve never noticed that hum before. Why is it that things sound louder in the dark?
It’s eight o’clock. Why haven’t my parents called? They should have been home hours ago. Where are they? Where could they be? What if something bad has happened to them? What if they’ve been in a car accident? What if—
The phone rings. Thank God.
“Erin! Is this Erin Vincent?” asks a woman’s voice I don’t recognize.
My stomach sinks. It’s not Mum. I’d better get this woman off quick in case my parents try to call.
“There’s been an accident. Your parents have been in an accident!” the woman cries.
I hold the phone tight, trying to process what she’s saying. “What? Who is this?”
“Don’t worry. I’m a nurse—I’m here with them. Your dad told me to call you.”
“I don’t understand. What about Mum? What’s go- ing on?”
“The ambulance just left, it’s on the way to Liverpool Hospital.”
“But you said you were a nurse,” I say, confused. “Aren’t you there now?”
“I’m here at the side of the road. I just happened to drive past.”
“Please! What’s happened? What’s going on? Who are you?” I beg.
“Look, that’s all I know. I’m sorry. Call Liverpool Hospital.”
“Wait! Don’t hang up.”
She’s hung up! You can’t say that and just hang up!
This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening.
It was just a prank call. That’s it. But how did that woman get our number, and how did she know Mum and Dad aren’t home? How did she know my name?
Oh no. God, no! Please, God, no.
My heart’s pounding so hard and fast I feel like it’s becoming dislodged from my chest. The threads holding it in place have broken and it’s just bouncing around in there.
What do I do?
I pray. Please, God. Don’t let them be dead. I’m begging you. I’ll do anything. I’ll sing hymns and hand out pamphlets at the mall, I’ll watch religious TV. I’ll keep you constantly in my thoughts. Just let them have broken legs or arms or something. I know I had that terrible thought last week, but that was just a stupid orphan daydream. Don’t all kids think stuff like that?
It’s quiet and dark, but I don’t want to put the lights on. My eyes have adjusted and I can see all around me, but it’s like someone turned the brightness down on the TV. I’m standing between the dining room and the kitchen. In this light, Mum’s expensive wood dining table and maroon-velvet-cushioned chairs look like something out of an old English movie. The copper hood above the stove belongs in the servants’ kitchen, where they pluck chickens and stir pots of stew over an open fire.
I need to move. I can’t stand still.
I’m walking around the house in circles, around and around and around, faster and faster, until each room becomes a blur. They’re dead. Mum’s dead. No, what am I saying? She can’t be.
She made my lunch today.
I’ve got to call the hospital. Breathe deeply and think straight. Be strong.
I wish I knew where Tracy was. She’s at a nightclub, but which one? Probably better I don’t know. Why make her panic too?
These stupid flimsy phone book pages won’t turn quickly enough. I’m scared to dial the number but I know I have to. Okay, it’s ringing. They’re not dead, they’re not dead, they’re—
“Good evening, Liverpool Hospital,” a man answers.
“Oh . . . so this is Liverpool Hospital?” I say, my voice shaky.
“Um, how do I find out if someone’s been taken there recently? Tonight, I mean.”
“I’ll put you through.”
“They’re okay, they’re okay, they’re okay,” I chant.
“Admissions,” says a chirpy voice.
“Hello, I need to find out about two people taken there tonight.”
“You’ll need to talk a bit slower,” she says. “What are their names?”
“Vincent, Ronald . . . and Beverly Vincent.”
Just saying their names makes me want to cry, but I’m not going to.
“Hang on. I’ll check.”
Please, God. Please. She’s going to come back with good news.
She’s back. “There’s no one been admitted by those names.”
“Are you sure? I was told they were going there.”
“I’m positive. They’re not here.”
Is that good or bad? Another dial tone. She’s hung up.
Please, God, don’t let them be dead. Where are they? Mum, Dad, come home.
I need to get out of here. Maybe someone else will know what to do. I’ll call Auntie Connie, our neighbor. She’s not really my aunt, but on my street all the kids call the adults Auntie and Uncle. It would feel strange to call them anything else. Mr. and Mrs. just aren’t enough.
Auntie Connie, Uncle Steele, and their kids, Theo, Venise, and Peter, are our closest friends in the neighborhood. They’re Greek. Going to their house is like visiting a country within a country, a little bit of Greece just up the road. Having meals there is like going to a Greek restaurant (not that I’ve ever been to one). We eat with the TV tuned to the Greek Variety Hour. Lots of flashing lights and Greek singers and dancers. Venise, Theo, and Peter hate it. I love it.
My hands feel clammy on the phone. Stupid phone.
Theo answers. He’s a couple of years older than I am. He’s the nicest boy I know. Last year I had the biggest crush on him, but I’m over it now. I tell him what’s happened. I’m crying. He tells me his parents are out but that I can come over and wait with him.
I turn off the reading light. Dad will be angry if I leave a light on. I get my keys and lock the front door.
It’s a hot and windy Australian summer night. The kind of night in horror movies where bad things happen. But nothing bad would happen on our happy street. It’s a cul-de-sac, with lots of kids. We skateboard, have water balloon fights, and ride go-carts down the hill. There’s hardly ever traffic, so we never have to worry about being run over in the street, which is a big relief for Mum.
We live in Beverly Hills, thirty minutes from the center of Sydney. It’s nothing like the Beverly Hills in America that I see on TV. My Beverly Hills has no rich people. My Beverly Hills has redbrick houses, eucalyptus trees, and Toyotas, not Porsches. I’m going to make it to the real Beverly Hills one day and become a movie star. But in the meantime, the other kids and I perform on the back of Dad’s work truck, parked in the street outside our house. We live at number six, which is a lucky number, Mum says.
Please let us be lucky tonight.
What People are saying about this
“A gripping memoir . . . glimpses of humor amid tragedy make this a pageturner.”—School Library Journal
“Any adolescent going through the grieving process will tearfully embrace her book.”—Booklist
“Intimate, honest narrative.”—Publishers Weekly
Meet the Author
Erin Vincent has worked as a journalist, fashion designer, creative consultant, theater actress, photographer's assistant, waitress on a paddle steamer, bartender, and served pies and mushy peas late at night from a roadside van. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Adam, and a pet crab named Charlie.
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Erin Vincent's book is a coming of age story like no other. I laughed, I cried, I inhaled this unique look at every child's fear play itself out brilliantly.One of the best memoirs to date!
''Erin Vincent is a very talented author. She's been through more then I could ever imagine going through. In this book she captures a range of emotions, and she shows how that when her life hit rock bottom, she still made the best of it. This book will change the way you take things for granted, and make you cry. I cryed so many times reading this book. She also captured some humor, I LOVED it.''
Grief Girl is a well written, meaningful novel that gives the reader a view into the life of a teenager working through a terrible situation. The book is easy to read and engaging. It is an interesting read for anyone, but can also provide support and helpful information to those who have gone through a similar tragedy. I recommend this book to teens and adults alike.
Really great book it helps you understand what people are going through! I personallly loved hearing what it was like to go through that
I read this book it was so interresting i loved it
In this heartbreaking yet uplifting memoir, Erin Vincent recounts the tragedy of losing both of her parents in a terrible car accident when she was fourteen. What makes the story so sad, at least for me, was that fact that her father, unlike her mother, was not killed instantly in the crash, but survived for a number of weeks before succumbing to his injuries. For me, this fact made Ms. Vincent's story even more difficult, as it felt like hope had left her family for good.
"They say God is a comfort to all those who mourn. How can you be a comfort to those you've made suffer? What manipulation! It's like having your wounds dressed by the person who hurt you...No, sorry, you're a bit late, God."
For Erin, it takes awhile to realize that wishing something bad would happen to your parents is not the same as killing them. It doesn't take long, though, to realize that her horrible extended family - her father's parents and her mother's wretched brothers - are up to no good. With only her older sister, Tracy, and Tracy's boyfriend, Chris, to watch our for Erin and her younger brother, Trent, things are not going to get easier in a hurry.
As life goes on - Erin returns to school, she watches as both her mother and father are buried, she goes on a trip with her theater group - she realizes that life cannot be categorized as either good or bad, but rather is a series of ups and downs, of highs and lows. As Erin leans on her best girlfriend, as the only true friends of her parents help out her beleaguered "family" when they need help, she learns that life does go on, whether you want it to or not.
The wonderful thing about GRIEF GIRL is that Ms. Vincent never comes across as pitiful, although it would be easy to pity a girl who lost both of her parents. Although technically an orphan, she never adopted that orphan attitude. And even though there were many times throughout her life in which both friends and family took advantage of her, Erin shows in the end the fighting spirit to reclaim what is hers - something that I'm sure would make her mother and father very, very proud.
This is a wonderful memoir I would recommend to anyone, but especially those who have faced their own losses. Ms. Vincent's enduring spirit of strength is to be admired.
One of the best books i've ever read. Its one of those books where it really opens your eyes, and you feel like youre one of the characters yourself. Would absolutely reccomend this book!
This is a great book. My friends have been recommending this book fir the whole year 2014-2015
I have a very serendipitous personal story of how I found this book. In a state of deep depression, I searched "images of depression". Many photos popped up but one in particular stopped me in my tracks. "That is one", I thought. The photo that can relay how I feel without words. Then I read the words included with the photo and saw the name "Adam Knott". Who is Adam Knott? I did a search and found nothing linking him to Erin. But I am not easily dissuaded. I continued searching. "Erin Knott". Nope. Somehow, I found my way to Adam's photo log of his beloved wife' Erin's depression while writing a book about the loss of her parents. Now, this is a book review, really it is, but the odd coincidences are, to me, important. I happened to own this book by mere chance. "Grief Girl". That sounded familiar.I bought it at a local book sale a few years ago, not realizing it was for teens. In the throes of grief regarding a similar but different type of loss, I read it in one sitting. I realize I did this completely backwards, but then again, it was perfect. Erin's book captivated me. I was, in a way, taken out of my own pain and fell head-long into hers. This book is so well written, in the moment, from the perspective of 14 year-old Erin. Brilliant. I especially appreciated her willingness to bare her soul by exquisitely describing the normal, sometimes self-absorbed thoughts an adolescent girl has during this stage of development (first day back at school, being admired for her fortitude, etc.) Erin is a very brave woman. It is a shame she inadvertently induced PTSD/depression (catharsis ain't all its cracked up to be) but this book is beautiful. From all I can gather, the author has emerged healthy and whole on the other side of her courageous endeavor. I cannot believe anyone would give this book less than a 4-star review, but then empathy is an endangered human trait according to a few other books. Well done, Erin. And thank you.
This is a wonderful book I cried through most of it and I thought Erin Vincent did an amazing job of keeping the plot.
When i read your story it made me cry and i know you dont want to hurt maxine so im going to tell you something. ITS YOUR LIFE!!!!!!! You should care what peole think .I met a lot of peole like you and want to meet one go on youtube and type THIS IS A COMMONTERY and to the new year resoustions. I hope this helps you
Maxxy andI decided to sty together and battle whateverr comes our way and whatever happens happens. That we neeed to be strong no matter what ad when and if the time comes for us to seperate we might both be ready and we might not be but we will always bee the best of friends. Thankyou so much for your advice it was so helpful and jus what i need thankyou soo so much. :)
This is one of the best books ive ever read! I loved it!
I couldnt stop reading! A wonderful book indeed.
This book is amazing! These are one of the books that you dont know the page youre on because its so catchy. I was done with summer homework so i wanted a book that could keep me entertained and boy am i happy about it. Erin is struggling to accept the fact that her parents died so she hoes through stuff that a normal teen shouldnt have to. Alog of people will surely enjoy this book. Its work the money or even more!
This book will change your life !!!
As i reed the book i gieved just like it says on the title GRIEF GIRL. i morned when she morned when she cried i felt the hot tears run down my face but i never put my nook down until i coulded see anymore and then i cried til my eye where red & puffy and my was red. I laughed when she laughed, and when she had a conversation i replayed it in my head. I felt every thing she felt, it was like i was erin. I'll tell u i am the middle child i am also the olded daughter my bigest bro already has 2 little boys & my other bro is in college in Weatherford and in live rigjt out of graham but i am also 14 with a little sis and bro thats11 and another little bro whose 9 u must be thinking well thats not bad she can take care of them her self but ur wrong there i cant give them everything they need. So how do u exspect erin to help her big sis at the age of 13when both her parents have died. She cant. But she did the best she could and that all that matters she found a job when now adays theres not a job that will hire a 14 year girl except fr babysitting and they wont do that without parent perrmission i would have 2hunt for food which is no prob 4me considering i live in the country but the prob is that i wouldnt be abil 2 pay bills or pay 4 playbays or clothes and food. Anway back to the book this book is a heart warming book abput a real girl that went through the real tragity of losing both parents and the money wasnt left 2them it was left 2there uncle and 2make matters worse he wont share. If u r a teenage girl then i promice u will lo e this book.
I read this book a while ago. I would suggest everyone read it! I read it pretty fast and it was interesting.
It was a fantastic book it had a lot of detail if there were a part two i would totally read i recommend it to anybody no matter what age cause its about a teenager and i really do recommend it!!!!!!
Loved this book , what she has gone through is completley heart breaking. A have to read book!