Children's Literature @ NYPL
Booktalking "The One Left Behind" by Willo Davis Roberts
Eleven-year-old Mandy grieves the loss of her identical twin sister, Angel, who died of the E-coli virus that she ingested from eating an undercooked hamburger. Mandy was used to doing everything exclusively with her sister; they even dressed alike. She feels as though half of herself, half of her person hood is gone forever. Amanda cannot express her feelings to her family since she thinks that they will not understand. The kids at school do not know what to say to her.
When Angel died,
"The color, the music, and the joy went out of her life."
Mandy goes through the normal stages of grief, including denial and guilt. Luckily, she gets distracted by a perplexing mystery involving a little boy and a runaway teenager. Mandy, also, luckily enough for her, at least has Herry, her 120-pound bear-like dog, to keep her company and protect her.
I found this work intriguing. I have always been fascinated by twins. My mother is a twin, and I have read many books and watched television documentaries about twins; it is the closest human relationship possible, closer than spouses or romantic partners. I loved reading Sweet Valley High series books by Francine Pascal in which the protagonists are identical twins, when I was growing up.
A few criticisms. I really would have liked to have known what breed the dog Herry was. This is probably because I used to watch too much Animal Planet on television. I spent the entire story trying to figure it out. The dog weighed 120 pounds, had a black tail, and looked like a bear so I figured, perhaps he was a Bernese Mountain Dog. Also, I realize that people have died from E-coli, but Dilly's Deli seemed a little bit silly. Since the story was about mourning, I would have preferred to have seen a different cause of death. Also, Angel seemed kind of a hokey name for a character who was deceased.