After her suicide attempt, 16-year-old Vicky Cruz wakes up in the hospital with her stomach pumped. Given the choice to stay for two weeks or go home, she makes her first step toward recovery and tells her father that going home would be a mistake. In group therapy, she meets Mona, E.M. and Gabriel, each with a different mental illness and each possessing the ability to help each other in ways that doctors, family and friends cannot. They help Vicky realize she has clinical depression—as well as the emotional strength to face the life that waits for her, if she wants to live.
Straight-talking but not overbearing, honest but not overly dark, The Memory of Light offers an accurate depiction of depression. Witnessing Vicky’s breakthrough is a powerful experience for readers, and piecing together her progression to the suicide attempt and watching her grow as she begins to comprehend how her depression began is nothing less than a gift from author Francisco X. Stork, who drew from his own experience with depression to write this novel.
Through the group members, Stork touches on other mental illnesses of psychosis, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. This is a well-rounded work of fiction, with the frank and helpful lesson that sometimes we need to pretend in order to survive.
This article was originally published in the February 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.