Saturday, January 17, 2015

"The Shadow of Loss" by Josefina Gutierrez

The Shadow of Loss
by Josefina Gutierrez

Evelyn Gonzalez keeps losing people, which is always hard, but has she lost something much more? Has she lost her soul? Evelyn has a nervous breakdown and is institutionalized, after months of sorrow and pain she is thrust back into the world. The world of teenage angst and Calculus.
Can she trust people again? Especially after hurtful assumptions and judgments made her miss her junior year of high school. Evelyn is just trying to heal what she lost and graduate from high school.

Chapter One
Ever heard the expression it all went down in a pile of flames? Well shit, I didn’t think life was going to get all literal about it. Now I am quietly tucked away between four white walls and a twin bed, where I can touch opposing walls with my index fingers. I have been stuck with my thoughts in this box for months. I have been cut off from the outside world, because I went crazy. My own sister, locked me up, but I don’t blame her—I really don’t. Olive was trying to help me when everyone else abandoned me. She writes me letters every week. I guess it is another way to anchor me to the living. It’s not like I don’t see her on visiting days, but like she says, “Letters are better for communicating, they force you to realize what is important.”
“Miss Gonzalez, your sister has arrived. Please gather your personals and follow me,” the orderly tells me. She was nice, but firm. I’ve heard the opposite is usually true in these cases—so I was lucky. She introduced me to Stigmata.
“Yes ma’am,” I say and walk over to the desk. I was only allowed the basics. I was stripped of all the vital things that would keep me informed or busy. I grab my small travel bag and my copy of Stigmata, which is on loan. Stigmata did for me what others could not. Some might have chosen an entirely different genre or novel, but it was never a matter of deciding, I knew. Institutionalization was a no brainer.
I hand my personals to her and follow her to the front. I see her waiting for me. She was always the attractive one. She is pacing back and forth near the front desk. She doesn’t see me yet, but I wave anyway, hoping she can sense it. Her face looks swollen, she must have been crying. She also looks skinnier than our last visit. How is that possible? I saw her a few days ago. Tsk tsk, frozen dinners most likely.
“Okay, Miss Gonzalez here are your items you brought in,” the orderly says. She hands me my old clothes, “You need to get changed.”
“Yes ma’am,” I grab my clothes and change quickly. I want to leave. I need to leave. I will try harder. I know I can try harder. When I open the door, sure enough the orderly is waiting for me. “Follow me Miss Gonzalez,” she says and turns to leave. “Yes ma’am,” I follow her.
She walks up to security. It is procedure upon discharge to get searched. They have my travel bag open and are rifling through my belongings. Opening caps and peering inside bottles. Why would someone smuggle something out of here? This seems unnecessary, but I go along with it. Besides I am supposed to be a reformed crazy person.
“All clear,” he tells her, and she begins searching me. Yes, I smuggled something on my person when I was in the restroom stall. I desperately wanted that five year old edition of Times. After I am searched, I grab my personals and hand the book back to her, but she just shakes her head. “Miss Gonzalez I hope we don’t see you again. You keep that book. Remember to take deep breathes to calm yourself,” she gives me a genuine smile. You know those smiles where a person’s eyes crinkle, so you know it is real, then it hits me I won’t see her again—hopefully.

Praise for the Book
"The Shadow of Loss is an accomplished and beautifully written coming of age story, and it is highly recommended." ~ Jack Magnus, Readers' Favorite
"The Shadow of Loss is clever, the dialogue is realistic, and this novel will make you think about the characters and story long after the last page. It's the very best kind of YA coming-of-age story." ~ donniedarkogirl
"The Shadow of Loss not only presents a compelling character study about the travails of a strong young girl but also has a powerful story that will appeal to a lot of readers. Josefina’s message of being comfortable in your own skin and being proud of your identity and choices is a good one and should be spoken about more especially amongst teens and young kids." ~ Kevin Peter
"Well written with attention to detail and pacing that is steady throughout. If you are looking for a YA read that isn't of the 'norm' then I can definitely recommend you give The Shadow of Loss your attention." ~ Merissa, Archaeolibrarian

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
Evelyn Gonzales is a teenage girl who is placed in a psychiatric institution by her sister Olive after experiencing the loss of June, whose story is slowly revealed. After six months, Evelyn is released into the care of Olive, who has moved them into a new apartment in a new town and has enrolled Evelyn in a new school. On her first day of school, Evelyn meets Matt, who quickly becomes her best friend. She also keeps running into Brody, the mysterious boy who happens to live in the same apartment building. With the help of her sister, her counselor, her employer, and her two new friends, will Evelyn eventually become whole again?
Evelyn's mixed German and Mexican heritage provides for some interesting cultural references throughout the book. There is a handy glossary of Spanish and German terms at the end; it would be more helpful if the words were hyperlinked to the definitions, although using the "search in book" function works adequately. I would also prefer the non-English words to be italicized, even though the author explains her reasons for not doing so at the end of the book.
There are a number of issues with plot and characterization. Evelyn presents as a strong young woman and doesn't seem the type to need institutionalizing for six months. Her sister Olive doesn't come across as realistic and is, in fact, too good to be true. The relationships between Evelyn and Matt and Brody are not believable. Everything seems to happen too quickly, with not enough conflict, and with all of the issues being resolved too easily. There are also numerous editing errors throughout, including incorrect word usage and punctuation errors.
While the story kept me reading, and the underlying message in the book is positive, I was left wanting more.

About the Author
Josefina Gutierrez is a Young Adult eBook author and a forever student currently working towards a Masters in Bicultural-Bilingual Studies at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Josefina writes Young Adult Multicultural, Sci-fi, and Fantasy literature in her free time when she’s not embarking on adventures with her son and gnomes Fitzgerald and Bartholomew.