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Kate is bound for Stanford and an M.D.—if her family will let her go. Mary wants to stay home and paint. When their loving but repressive father dies, they must figure out how to support themselves and their mother, who is in a permanent vegetative state. Then three men sway their lives: Kate’s boyfriend Simon offers to marry her, providing much-needed stability. Mary is drawn to Marcos, though she fears his violent past. And Andy tempts Kate with more than romance, recognizing her ambition because it matches his...

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Kate is bound for Stanford and an M.D.—if her family will let her go. Mary wants to stay home and paint. When their loving but repressive father dies, they must figure out how to support themselves and their mother, who is in a permanent vegetative state. Then three men sway their lives: Kate’s boyfriend Simon offers to marry her, providing much-needed stability. Mary is drawn to Marcos, though she fears his violent past. And Andy tempts Kate with more than romance, recognizing her ambition because it matches his own. Kate and Mary find new possibilities and darknesses in their sudden freedom. But it’s Mama’s life that might divide them for good—the question of if she lives, and what’s worth living for.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal - Audio
Gr 9 Up—Kate, 18, and Mary, 16, are sisters woven from the same cloth, but as different as plaid and paisley in Francisco X. Stork's engaging novel (Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Bks., 2012). Kate dreams of attending Stanford and becoming a doctor. Mary, a talented artist, wants to capture the world's beauty on canvas. Unfortunately, their dreams begin to fade after an accident leaves their mother in a permanent vegetative state. Their father, a Texas pastor, is loving, kind, and extremely repressive. After his unexpected death, their differences threaten to pull them apart—Kate struggles with faith, Mary rests in its peace; Kate wants to remove her mother's feeding tube, Mary does not. Complications continue when two men vie for Kate's affection: sensitive, dependable Simon and the ambitious Reverend Soto. And the never-been-kissed Mary falls for bad-boy Marcos. An epilogue neatly wraps up the story lines and Mary discovers that Van Gogh's "Irises," which she has been struggling to replicate, hold similarities to her and Kate: they are similar, yet their beauty lies in the subtle and unique differences. Narrator Carrington MacDuffie provides small, yet distinct character transitions; her voicing of Aunt Julia is superb. This tender, coming-of-age story proclaims the resiliency of love and its ability to mend, bind, and strengthen the human spirit. A great choice!—Cheryl Preisendorfer, Twinsburg City Schools, OH
Publishers Weekly - Audio
When their father, the local preacher, dies, sisters Kate and Mary—whose mother is trapped in a permanent vegetative state and who are just becoming adults—must make some serious decisions about their futures.But increasing demands, complications, and their mother’s health make those decisions that much harder. Narrator Carrington MacDuffie’s performance is somewhat lacking.Her voice sounds distant and devoid of emotion. Conversely, the voices she lends characters are often ineffective:Kate and Mary often sound too similar and listeners may have difficulty distinguishing them at times. And while some of the narrator’s male voices are believable, others lack personality.However, MacDuffie does shine during emotionally pitched moments of the story, which she narrates in an energized tone that corresponds with the scene. Ages 14–up. An Arthur A. Levinehardcover. (Jan.)
Publishers Weekly
In this ethically nuanced novel, Stork (Marcelo in the Real World) thrusts a devastating choice on two strong heroines. When their strict minister father dies, two El Paso sisters, 18-year-old Kate, who dreams of going to medical school, and 16-year-old Mary, a talented painter, are left with many painful decisions. At the forefront of their minds are their mother, who has been in a persistent vegetative state for more than two years following a car accident, and their perilous financial situation. Tension escalates when the church plans to evict them, the insurance company denies their father’s policy, and Kate resists pressure to marry her dependable boyfriend. As both sisters change and open up in unexpected ways without their father’s restrictive presence, questions of faith and the girls’ differing beliefs and outlooks provide a powerful theme, further complicated when Kate raises a potentially divisive question: whether to keep their mother on life support. Stork demonstrates his customary skill in creating memorable and multidimensional characters in a story that leaves lingering, contemplative questions regarding death, survival, and love. Agent: Faye Bender Literary Agency. Ages 14–up. (Jan.)
From the Publisher

Praise for Marcelo in the Real World:
Winner of the Schneider Family Book Award for Teens
An ALA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults

"Brisk, brilliant, unsentimental." -- Robert Lipsyte, The New York Times Book Review

[STAR] “Stork delivers a powerful tale populated by appealing (and decidedly unappealing) characters and rich in emotional nuance.” -- Kirkus, starred review

[STAR] “Shot with spirtualism, laced with love, and fraught with conundrums, this book, like Marcelo himself, surprises.” -- Booklist, starred review

Praise for The Last Summer of the Death Warriors:
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2010

[STAR] "[An] openhearted, sapient novel about finding authentic faith and choosing higher love."--Publishers Weekly, starred review

[STAR] "Stork's latest marks him as one of the most promising young adult authors of the new decade." -- The Horn Book, starred review

“Complicated yet ultimately endearing characters are a Francisco Stork standard. His latest novel doesn't disappoint.” -- Chicago Sun-Times

"An intricate, engaging story, with the occasional parallel to Don Quixote." -- The Denver Post

Children's Literature - Joyce Rice
This is the tale of two sisters who are struggling to grow up and not grow apart. Kate, the older of the sisters, is thinking about college and scholarships. Mary is the painter in the family who can see light in the people and objects that she paints. Both girls are extremely smart and both are gifted in their own way. Mary and Kate's mother abides in their home, but in a comatose state, following a serious accident four years ago in which the girls' father was driving. Their daily routine involves keeping house, preparing meals and taking care of their mother's needs. However, in spite of this, they manage to live a fairly normal life within the confines of their father's strict religious beliefs. A pastor of a small church, he discourages makeup, boyfriends and contemporary dress in order to maintain control of his daughters. When he suffers a fatal heart attack, the girls are thrown into an unknown future that presents itself in moving out of the church parsonage, giving up college plans and having no visible means of support. Mary's friendship with an unlikely artist and Kate's infatuation with the new young pastor adds strife to their already stressed relationship, but like true sisters their loyalty to each other will win out. This story addresses sibling relationships, quality of life issues and religious principles. The characters of Kate and Mary are well established and will make a positive impression on young adult readers. Author Stork, who spent his teenage years in El Paso, Texas, where the story is set, is the winner of several fiction awards. This title merits budget and shelf space for the identified reader ages. Reviewer: Joyce Rice
VOYA - Shana Morales
Irises is the story of Kate and Mary, sisters suddenly forced to confront their religious beliefs, ambitions, and dreams in the wake of their father's death. Their mother, who has been in a persistent vegetative state for over two years, weighs heavily on how they are to move forward. Kate dreams of attending Stanford University to become a doctor, while Mary finds her joy in painting and sketching. Friends, family, love interests, and community members come in and out of the story, demonstrating to the reader who these girls are and who their father was. The most stirring story lines in Irises suddenly fall flat, as they only develop toward the end of the book. A blooming romance, a potential love affair, and the major decisions they must make occur off-page or fall to the side undeveloped, leaving the reader disappointed. The men in the story play a limited role when it is clear they should and could have greater impact had the story persisted. Despite this flaw, Irises is overall a compelling read best suited for older teens and adult readers. The religious aspects of the story may turn off readers at the far ends of a religious scale, but those who give it a read will likely be intrigued. Reviewer: Shana Morales
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Kate, 18, and Mary, 16, daughters of a stern Texas minister, are close but very different. Kate secretly dreams of going to Stanford for a medical degree. Artistic Mary is quiet, serious, and deeply devoted to her family, especially their mother, who is in a persistent vegetative state. When their father dies suddenly, the girls must grow up quickly. Although they have help from adults—their aunt, teachers, a social worker—they must make life-altering, wrenching decisions on their own. Stork touches on matters of faith, fidelity, and being true to oneself with gentle writing that is at times a bit stiff, but that suits the girls' upbringing. This is even addressed in the narrative when another character talks to Mary about the formality of her speech. The mutual attraction between Kate and the new minister who replaces her father is a catalyst for her to make some big changes for her family, including whether or not to end her mother's life. The girls work through such questions as what is selfishness and what is moving on with your own life, and whether there is a proper way to grieve. Although Irises covers deep topics, its slow, graceful pace never feels ponderous or overwhelming. It offers readers much to reflect on, even as its protagonists do the same.—Geri Diorio, Ridgefield Library, CT
Kirkus Reviews
Two sisters in El Paso face weighty decisions following their father's sudden death. Mary has struggled with her artistic talent since an accident left their mother in a vegetative state. Kate secretly dreams of going to Stanford to become a doctor. Neither can see an escape from the burden of their mother's constant physical needs. Nor can they see each other's perspective, a reality underscored by the third-person narrative that alternates points of view. Kate's boyfriend proposes to her, offering a way out of their financial difficulties, but she's afraid that accepting means giving up her dream. Mary is attuned to a life of faith, like their minister father, and believes that their mother will wake up someday. Kate finds it easier to accept that their mother's life is already gone, and she is the first to recognize that withdrawing life support is an option. Stork never shies away from allowing his teenage characters to deal with tough philosophical issues. His flawed supporting cast--an overzealous father, an imposing aunt, an ambitious young pastor who offers comfort to Kate and a seemingly rough boy who befriends Mary--allows the girls to sort through the complexities of human nature and come together to reach a decision regarding their mother. At times the family dynamics and symbolism seem forced, but there is plenty of poignancy in questions of faith that are raised. (Fiction. 14 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307967961
  • Publisher: Listening Library, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/28/2012
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Library CD

Meet the Author

Francisco X. Stork is the author of MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD, winner of the Schneider Family Book Award for Teens and the Once Upon a World Award, and THE LAST SUMMER OF THE DEATH WARRIORS, which was named to the YALSA Best Fiction for Teens list. He lives near Boston with his wife.
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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2012

    Hahaahaahhhahahaha who dat

    First review is it good i have a sister and i have a friend named iris happy early mardi gras

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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