From the New York Times bestselling author of Girl in Pieces comes a novel about love and loss and learning how to continue when it feels like you're surrounded by darkness that Karen M. McManus, the New York Times bestselling author of One of Us Is Lying, calls "rare and powerful."
Here is what happens when your mother dies.
It's the brightest day of summer and it's dark outside. It's dark in your house, dark in your room, and dark in your heart. You feel like the darkness is going to split you apart.
That's how it feels for Tiger. It's always been Tiger and her mother against the world. Then, on a day like any other, Tiger's mother dies. And now it's Tiger, alone.
Here is how you learn to make friends with the dark.
"Stunning and beautifully written."-HelloGiggles
"A rare and powerful novel, How to Make Friends with the Dark dives deep into the heart of grief and healing with honesty, empathy, and grace." Karen M. McManus, New York Times bestselling author of One of Us Is Lying and Two Can Keep a Secret
"Breathtaking and heartbreaking, and I loved it with all my heart." Jennifer Niven, New York Times bestselling author of All the Bright Places and Holding Up the Universe
Praise for Kathleen Glasgow's Girl in Pieces
"Girl, Interrupted meets Speak." Refinery29.com
"One of the most affecting novels we have read." Goop.com
"A haunting, beautiful, and necessary book that will stay with you long after you've read the last page." Nicola Yoon, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything and The Sun Is Also a Star
|Publisher:||Random House Children's Books|
|Product dimensions:||5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.50(d)|
|Age Range:||14 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Kathleen Glasgow's first novel was the New York Times bestselling novel Girl in Pieces. How to Make Friends with the Dark is her second novel. She lives and writes in Tucson, Arizona. To learn more about Kathleen and her writing, visit her website, kathleenglasgowbooks.com, or follow @kathglasgow on Twitter and @misskathleenglasgow on Instagram.
Read an Excerpt
I find the bills by accident, stuffed underneath a pile of underwear in the dresser my mother and I share. Instead of clean socks, my hands come away with a thick stack of envelopes marked Urgent, Last Notice, Contact Immediately.
My heart thuds. We don’t have a lot, we never have, but we’ve made do with what my mom makes as the county Bookmobile lady and from helping out at Bonita’s daycare. Come summer, we’ve got the Jellymobile, but that’s another story.
You don’t hide things in a drawer unless you’re worried.
Mom’s been on the couch since yesterday morning, cocooned in a black-and-red wool blanket, sleeping off a headache.
“Mom,” I say, loudly. “Mommy.”
No answer. I check the crooked clock on the wall. Forty minutes until zero period.
We’re what my mom likes to call “a well-oiled, good-looking, and good-smelling machine.” But I need the other half of my machine to beep and whir at me, and to do all that other stuff moms are supposed to do. If I don’t have her, I don’t have anything. It’s not like with my friend Cake, who has two parents and an uncle living with her. If my mom is sick, or down, I’m shit out of luck for help and companionship.
And rides to school.
“Mom!” I scream as loud as I can, practically ripping my throat in the process. I shove the bills back beneath the stack of underwear and head to the front room.
The scream worked. She’s sitting up, the wool blanket crumpled on the floor.
“Good morning to you, too,” she mumbles thickly.
Her short hair is matted on one side and spiky on the other. She looks around, like she recognizes nothing, like she’s an alien suddenly dropped into our strange, earthly atmosphere.
She blinks once, twice, three times, then says, “Tiger, baby, get me some coffee, will you?”
“There’s no coffee.” I use my best accusatory voice. I have to be a little mean. I mean, come on. It looks like we’re in dire straits here, plus, a couple other things, like Kai, are currently burning a hole in my brain. I need Mom-things to be happening.
“There’s nothing,” I say. “Well, peanut butter. You can have a big fat hot cup of steaming peanut butter.”
My mom smiles, which kills me, because I can’t resist it, and everything I thought I might say about the stack of unpaid bills kind of flies out the window. Things will be fixed now. Things will be okay, like always.
We can beep and whir again.
Mom gets up and walks to the red coffeemaker. Coffee is my mother’s drug. That and cigarettes, no matter how much Bonita and Cake and I tell her they’re disgusting and deadly. When I was little, I used to wake up at the crack of dawn, ready to play with her, just her, before she’d drag me to the daycare, and I always had to wait until she had her first cup of coffee and her first cigarette. It was agony waiting for that stupid machine to glug out a cup while my hands itched with Legos or pick-up sticks.
She heaves a great sigh. “Shit,” she says. “Baby! I better get my ass in gear, huh?” She’s standing at the sink, trying to turn on the faucet, but nothing is coming out. “The water’s still crappy? I was hoping that was just a bad dream.” She nods to the faucet.
“Pacheco isn’t returning my calls,” I say. Mr. Pacheco is our landlord and not a very nice one.
She murmurs, “I guess I’ll have to deal with that today, too.”
I’m silent. Is she talking about the bills? Maybe I should
Mom holds out her arms. “Come here, baby. Here. Come to me.”
I run so fast I almost slip on the threadbare wool rug on the floor and I go flying against her, my face landing just under her collarbone. Her lips graze the top of my head.
Mom trembles. Her shirt’s damp, like she’s been sweating. She must need a cigarette. “I’m sorry,” she whispers into my hair. “I don’t know what happened. What a headache. Bonita leaving, the daycare closing. I just . . . it was a lot all at once, and I guess I stressed. Did you even have any dinner last night?”
I had a pack of lime Jell-O, and my stomach is screaming for food, but I don’t tell her this. I just keep nuzzling her.
My mother pulls away and laughs. “Grace,” she says. Hearing my real name makes me cringe. “Gracie, that pajama top doesn’t quite fit you anymore, baby doll.”
I pull defensively at the hem of the T-shirt and cross my arms over my chest.
My mom sighs. I know what’s coming, so I prepare my I’m bored face.
“Tiger,” she says firmly. “You’re a beautiful girl. I was just teasing, which I shouldn’t have done. You should never hide you. You’re growing into something wondrous. Don’t be ashamed.”
Wondrous. She and Bonita are crazy for the affirmation talk. Cake likes to say their mission in life is to Build a Better Girl Than They Were. “You know,” she said once, “their moms probably put them on diets of cottage cheese before prom and told them to keep their legs closed around boys.”
I roll my eyes and groan. “You have to tell me those things,” I answer. “You’re my mom. It’s in your job description.”
Her face softens and I feel guilty. Once I overheard her say to Bonita, “I try to tell Tiger all the things I never got to hear, you know?”
And I always want to know, what didn’t she get to hear? Because she’s tight-lipped about her early, non-Mom, kidlike days. Her parents died when she was in college, and she doesn’t like to talk about them.
My mother rummages around in the cabinets and somehow, somewhere, finds a lone can of Coke, even though I scoured the cabinets last night for spare eats. She takes a long, grateful sip and then wipes her mouth. She fishes in her purse for a cigarette.
“Go get dressed, Tiger. I’ll drop you at school and then I’ve got a lot of things to do. Today is going to be one hell of a day, I promise. Food, Pacheco, the works. I’ll make up for being out of it, okay?”
Mom heads out in the backyard to smoke and I hit my bedroom, where I frantically try to find something suitable in my closet of mostly unsuitable clothing. My mother thinks finding clothes in boxes on the side of the road is creative and fun and interesting and environmentally conscious (“One person’s trash is another person’s treasure!”) and not actually a by-product of our thin finances, but sometimes I wish I went to school dressed like any other girl, in leggings and a tee, maybe, with cute strappy sandals to highlight pink-polished toenails. Instead, I mostly look like a creature time forgot, dressed in old clothes that look like, well, old clothes.
I drag on a skirt and a faded T-shirt and jam a ball cap on my head, because the water in the shower is starting to look suspicious, too, so a shower is out of the question. I brush my teeth like a demon in the bathroom and splash water on my face.
Then, like I always do, I allow myself a minimum of three seconds to wonder: Who the hell is that? Where did she come from?
Because the dark and straight hair is nothing like my mother’s short, light mop. My freckles look like scattered dirt next to her creamy, blemish-free face.
So much of me is from The Person Who Shall Not Be Named. So much of me is unknown.
But here I am, and for now I need to get my mother in gear, get to school, make it through zero period and the little five-day-a-week shit-show I like to call “The Horror of Lupe Hidalgo,” which, if I survive, leads to Bio, and to Kai Henderson, the very thought of whom makes my heart start to pound like a stupid, lovesick drum, and who is one of the things I need to talk to my mother about.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Kathleen Glascow's book is one of the best YA books I've read this year (and I've already read plenty.) I am astonished at the way she used language and plotting, masterfully low-key and high-emotional. This book is in the genre of emotional YA books, but it isn't frivolous with emotionalism or trite in the way readers are pulled into the story. I highly recommend this one for all readers for its literary qualities. Terribly well-done and wonderfully hard to read at parts. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Grief is extremely personal. No two people experience and process their grief in the same way. Kathleen Glasgow's novel How to Make Friends with the Dark beautifully explores the complexity, the isolation, the raw pain you feel when someone you love dies. What's it about? Tiger's mother may be overprotective, but it has always been Tiger and her mother against the world. On a day like any other, after harsh words you can't take back are exchanged, Tiger's mother unexpectedly dies. And now Tiger is alone. The raw, gaping hole in her heart is all that remains and Tiger has to learn how to make friends with the dark. My Thoughts I read Katheleen Glasgow's debut Girl in Pieces 2 years ago and I was blown away. That book was a ROLLER COASTER. My expectations for How to Make Friends with the Dark were high. And was I let down? No, no I was not. How to Make Friends with the Dark takes you on a wild ride from a normal school day with the hopes of kissing your crush to literally the worst moment for anyone to go through: identifying your mother's body in a morgue. From there you're whisked away and shoved into the foster system, placed in the charge of a harsh caregiver who locks and inventories their food to a lovable hippy who is really doing the best they can with a girl ripped apart from the inside out, and finally placed under the care of a long lost sister barely older than Tiger. You spend a lot of time stuck in Tiger's mind and her thoughts, for the first part of the book, can be quite cyclical and repetitive and a bit like "get on with it." I also can suffer from repetitive thoughts, but that doesn't mean I didn't find it frustrating at times and all I could think was "let's get a move on." (Don't tell someone grieving to just get over it… You might get slapped in the mouth.) But "move on" it does. What I Liked • Strong Female Friendships. Cake and Tiger (literally some of craziest names I've ever encountered in contemporary fiction) have such a solid friendship. It's beautiful. When it would have been easy for Tiger to push Cake away or for Cake to disappear when things get hard and Tiger's emotions are messy, their friendship weathers the storm. Cake is always there for Tiger, almost to the detriment of herself. • Realistic Portrayals of Teenagers. In the beginning, I related to Tiger so much. She is one of the most realistic portrayals of a teen girl I have ever read. I was getting flashbacks to how I felt in high school, looking around me at all the girls that seemed so mature while I felt like a lump of misshapen dough. • Realistic Portrayal of Grief. Tiger's grief is almost palpable at times and at other times its can be frustrating. You just want to shake her and yell "Snap out of it!" She acts out. She wears the same dress she fought with her mom about for WEEKS on end. She gets angry. She fights. Her thoughts get very dark. • No Romance. Yes, you read that right! No romance. In a genre that easily falls into the trap of "love fixes all", this book is not one of them. • Shayna. Literally my favorite character. She's smart, strong, funny, and compassionate. She has little self awareness at times and can be quite rude. But she's real. She pushes Tiger when no one else around her is willing to push her. She is not necessarily someone I would like in real life, she is a bit off putting at times, but in this story, I loved her. • The notion that you are not alone no matter how isolated in your grief you feel. For
Rating: 3.5 stars Contains (Warning): Suicide, Domestic Abuse, Parental Death, Language eARC provided by publisher (Delacorte Press) through NetGalley Tiger Tolliver is like any other teen. She is worrying about boys and dances but when she gets a phone call about her mother, everything changes. She must now learn how to live without her mother and figure out how to deal with the darkness that is creeping in. I wasn't sure what to expect when diving into this book. I was drawn in by the cover and the synopsis made it sound quite intriguing. In some ways this book lived up to my expectations and in other ways it lacked a bit for me. Tiger Tolliver is a typical teen until the death of her mother starts a domino effect of events. She doesn't know how to even begin to cope with her mother's death and having to deal with arranging the funeral, foster homes, and living relatives brings more stress and adds to the blackhole of emotions she already has. This book is filled with tough subjects like the ones mentioned above and I am not sure how anyone manages to pull themself out of those circumstances. Tiger brings new light to issues that some children and teens face. It is quite heartbreaking. The writing style was hard to get into and some of the little extra things, like the hashtags, just didn't seem necessary to me. There was some language which also is a turn off for me but I can understand why it was used since the book is about a teen. The plot was filled with many dramatic details and at times it felt overwhelming. Some of the minor characters were present and then gone. I was hoping Thaddeus would be mentioned in the epilogue part but sadly he wasn't. I did like how they added an epilogue but it just wasn't as conclusive as I wanted it to be. Overall, it was still a read that I will remember even if I may have not been a fan of everything. Tiger is a heartbreaking character and sheds light on many hard topics that other teens may face in their life.
This book was really intense to read. Nobody likes the feeling when your loved ones die all of a sudden and they end up being all you have in order to survive on your own. This was the case when Tiger looses her mom and her mom was all she had. Despite the loss Tiger had instantaneously when loosing her mom, I just love how Tiger immediately showed her bravery and strength because that was all she had while making it on her own. I also am a big fan of books with figurative language such as the word dark having multiple meanings and here it was apparent that Tiger took both meanings in literally. As I mentioned before this was a pretty intense book to read but at the end when the theme is discovered, the reader will hopefully feel empowered, I certainly did. We will consider this book for our YFiction section in our library and that is why we give this book 4 stars.
(I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) How to Make Friends with the Dark is a book that will wring your heart out. It's always been Tiger and her mother. Even if she's a little overprotective and the struggle of her family and poverty, it's hers. Until the day her mother dies and Tiger's life is changed forever - throwing her into the foster care system until they can find a more permanent solution. Above all what kept me reading How to Make Friends with the Dark is Tiger and her grief. At times I needed to step away from this book because of how emotional it was making me. We feel the depths of Tiger's grief, the way she feels separated from the world around her - a girl in a jar. And throughout the book, we witness Tiger processing the complicated relationship she had with her mother, their last fight, and how to move on without her.