The Girl Death Left Behind by Lurlene McDaniel | Rating: ★★★☆☆
"You look at people from the inside out instead of the other way around."
(Throwback, re-edited review.)
Lurlene McDaniel’s 1999 novel The Girl Death Left Behind is just the right amount of tearjerker storytelling you’d expect from this popular author. Lurlene’s work has been around for ages and I’ve got a hunch that, in terms of children’s books, it will continue to be around even as our grandchildren grow up. Yes, years from now — a little girl or boy will discover her work for the first time and you’ll be required to buy them dozens upon dozens of boxed tissue.
This particular story begins like any other — a glimpse into the main character, Beth Haxton’s life before tragedy. She is the girl next door, an ordinary girl who has no clue her entire world is about to shake. The Girl Death Left Behind opens with a simple line that nearly all teenagers voice: You know the worst thing about my family?
Her world is broken when tragedy strikes her family and she has to leave all she’s ever known behind. Memories may stay with her, and the pain of tragedy fades a little: but in this coming of age tale, you begin to see just how quickly things can change. You’ll see her as she battles the sadness inside over the loss of her family, having to be uprooted at a relatively young age and the difficulty she has in accepting certain aspects of this new life.
It’s always sad to see someone so young go through something so
devastating, but I think that this book is something that pre-teens and
teens should look into reading. It will give the target audience a whole
new view on how they treat their families, how easily they take things
for granted and how sometimes things end in the blink of an eye.
Including the lives of your loved ones.
When I was in the eighth grade my then-best friend introduced me to
the world of Lurlene’s books through this story. They were simple, cheap
and interesting so, as a girl who just found a newly sparked interest
in reading, this was like hitting the jackpot.
The thing about Lurlene is that even though her stories sometimes
border on cliché, outdated views and full on tragedy (you rarely make it
through a novel of hers without death — which usually is very thought
provoking by the end of a story) you do come out of the story with a new
view. Knowledge — you come to realize that life isn’t all sunshine and
daisies and that sometimes people cope with tragedy different than
And sometimes, you may find a topic that interests you and leads you
down a career path in your future: whether that’s becoming someone in
health care or guidance.
Regardless, I’ve found that some of my former peers who’d lacked an
interest in reading grew to enjoy the story and it sent them on a
mission to read not only more of McDaniel’s work, but more novels in
general. Which is always a great thing, right?