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Remembering Raquel

Remembering Raquel

4.3 6
by Vivian Vande Velde

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Fifteen-year-old Raquel Falcone is, as one of her classmates puts it, the kind of kid who has a tendency to be invisible. That is until the night she's hit by a car and killed while walking home from the movies.

In brief, moving chapters, we hear about Raquel from her classmates, her best friend, her family--and the woman who was driving the car that struck her.


Fifteen-year-old Raquel Falcone is, as one of her classmates puts it, the kind of kid who has a tendency to be invisible. That is until the night she's hit by a car and killed while walking home from the movies.

In brief, moving chapters, we hear about Raquel from her classmates, her best friend, her family--and the woman who was driving the car that struck her.

The loss of this seemingly invisible girl deeply affects her entire community, proving just how interconnected and similar we all really are.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Edgar Award-winning Velde (Never Trust a Dead Man) covers well-traversed ground in this slender novel about a 14-year-old girl who is killed by an oncoming car after seeing a movie. Various people who knew the victim-or who think they did-narrate different chapters, slowly revealing aspects of Raquel's personality and the circumstances of her death. While some chapters offer insight into Raquel's misunderstood, loner-esque character (particularly those by her longtime best friend) others present fish-in-a-barrel ironies. Alpha girl Stacy Galbo, who has "admittedly good blond hair, green eyes, and a figure [she's] not ashamed of," assumes that Raquel, who was heavy and not popular, found her fate tragic: "being her, while wanting to be me-surely she stepped into the path of that car on purpose." Mara Ravenell, identifying herself as "the acknowledged expert at Quail Run High when it comes to petitions... or any other kind of social activism," plans to use Raquel's death as the cornerstone of her campaign for safer streets-either that or raise money to buy oxen for the underprivileged in Africa. A few passages are poignant, as in the bewildered confession by the driver of the car, but cynicism and more irony work their way into moments that readers might expect to have emotional depth, as in Raquel's father's recollection of Raquel's behavior during her mother's fatal bout with cancer. While this probe doesn't get much past the surface, it builds up a gloss, hard and shiny, that many teens may find attractive. Ages 12-up. (Nov.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature
Fourteen-year-old Raquel Falcone steps off a curb into the path of an oncoming car and is killed instantly. Vande Valde creates a moving and gripping portrait of quiet, overweight, unpopular Raquel--the events that led up to her death, and its painful aftermath--through a chorus of voices reflecting on the tragic event. One classmate muses, “It’s amazing how much dying can do for a girl’s popularity,” and ruefully notes that her first reaction to hearing the news was, “Oh, crap. That makes me the class fat girl.” Another perkily leaps into action organizing a petition drive to reduce the speed limit on the road on which Raquel was killed, proud to have another outlet for her highly publicized social activism. Raquel’s widowed father mourns that he missed out on his last chance to tell his baby girl to “stay safe.” In this slim and masterfully crafted collection, Vande Velde shows how little most of us know of the inner lives of those with whom we interact each day, and highlights the poignancy of the lost connections which could have enriched us. This is a brilliant tour de force that should enhance Vande Velde’s already great reader popularity and critical acclaim. Reviewer: Claudia Mills, Ph.D.
School Library Journal

Gr 7-10
This short, bittersweet story uses the voices of 20 different characters to tell of the death of a teenager. Classmates (male and female, friendly and unfriendly), relatives, onlookers, and friends reflect on 14-year-old Raquel's life and death as the book winds its way to her funeral. A wallflower at school, she is well loved by several credible figures, including an online gaming acquaintance who knows her only as her alter ego, Gylindrielle. Few of her classmates suspect the depth and creativity of her character, and readers are allowed only a glimpse at her personality (at one point reading the last few entries she made on her blog). In an eerie and subtle twist, they learn more about Raquel's death than any of the characters will ever know. The death of her mother the previous winter, the girl's reluctance to accept it, unsigned do-not-resuscitate orders, and the assumptions of a kindhearted EMT make readers wonder if Raquel's story might have, instead, continued with her life rather than her death, if only.... The book is perfect for reluctant readers; its short chapters and dramatic premise will appeal to both boys and girls, while the surprises revealed through the thoughts of those who knew (or merely knew of) Raquel will make students think about the coincidental possibilities that propel their lives forward-and have the potential to bring them to an end.
—Nora G. MurphyCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.25(h) x 0.56(d)
940L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Vivian Vande Velde has written many books for teen and middle grade readers, including Heir Apparent, User Unfriendly, All Hallow's Eve: 13 Stories, Three Good Deeds, Now You See It ..., and the Edgar Award–winning Never Trust a Dead Man. She lives in Rochester, New York. Visit her website at www.vivianvandevelde.com.

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Remembering Raquel 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
mrdarcy3 More than 1 year ago
Raquel, an average girl, dies coming home from a movie late and night and stepping in front of a car. She never had a chance. Her story is told from the eyes of classmates who never talked to her, but cry at her wake, her best friend, her father, the people who watched her die, and one girl who could have been her friend - but wasn't. I liked this book, it made me think of mine own life and how people would react to my death - meaning what have a I brought to the world and left behind. I like books that make me think - even if it is a little morbid.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written but so sad. Something about this book feels honest, the author not trying to pretend that everyone misses Raquel and will be spending months mourning for her. I loved the end, especially the part about the butterflies.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
The facts as we know them: Raquel Falcone was fourteen years old. She was the class "fat girl." She loved her father, and her father loved her. Her best friend was Hayley Evenski. She died when a car hit her as she was leaving the movie theater.

The things we don't know: Pretty much everything else.

Told in alternating chapters that are more like the thoughts and ideas of those who knew her (and those who really didn't), REMEMBERING RAQUEL is a short but powerful story.

We hear from Hayley, Raquel's best friend, who feels that, even though she didn't go to the movies with Raquel that night, she still should have been able to prevent her death. We listen to the girls who now remember themselves as Raquel's friends, even though they wouldn't have given such a fat, invisible girl the time of day in real life (who knew death was such a popularity booster?). We hear from the boy who might have, maybe, one day, asked Raquel out on a date, or to the school dance. We get a glimpse of the older woman, another movie patron, who fears she may have been responsible for Raquel stepping into the path of that car. We listen to her father, who had already lost his wife, grieve over the fact that his last words to his daughter were "Yeah, yeah," said in a "whatever" type of voice as his daughter left the house.

Vivian Vande Velde is a great author who has mastered the pace of writing a short, emotional story. It's passages such as the one from Nona Falcone, Raquel's grandmother, that make this book worth reading:

"I've watched Alzheimer's steal my husband's memories, one by one, from most recent to oldest -- so that at the nursing home he'll say, "Hello," as though I haven't been holding his hand for the last half hour. He'll give the smile that won my heart in high school and say, "Thank you for visiting me. Do I know you?"

Oh, Raquel. Why did God bless him, and not me?"

Pick up a copy of REMEMBERING RAQUEL. You'll be glad you did.
eheinlen More than 1 year ago
This book is a quick read, but extremely thought-provoking. I didn't expect it to be as interesting as it was. I think this book might be a good book for middle school girls to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was interesting. It is sad when she gets hit by a car:( this story is short though. I 'm still wondering if she got hit by accident, on purpose, or someone pushed her.
arlo hettle More than 1 year ago