Friday, July 16, 2010
The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X. Stork
I want to write about this book while it is very fresh in my mind. I just finished it today while I read snippets of it in between parent sessions at my daughter's college orientation. The final chapter I read while I was standing outside waiting for her to pick-up her overnight bag. I couldn't put it down.
A Death Warrior always fights for life and considers anytime not spent loving as time wasted. A person becomes a Death Warrior when they recognize that they are going to die, but choose to love life anyway. The Death Warrior Manifesto was written by D.Q., a terminally ill teenager, who lives at St. Andrews orphanage. He shares his philosophy for life and the manifesto with Pancho, another teen his same age who is very angry about the recent deaths of both his sister and his father. So begins the unlikely friendship of two boys both searching for peace and answers.
I was a huge fan of Francisco Stork's book, Marcelo in the Real World. One of the features that I enjoyed in this book, as I did in his other book, is how issues of faith and spirituality play a role in the storyline. I think it is very realistic that teenagers who are facing death should grapple with issues related to God, faith, the afterlife and so on. I appreciate the poignant and sensitive way that the author handles these topics. There are no glib answers, just like there are none in real life. In Fransisco Stork's July 10th journal entry he explains what it means to write with integrity. He says: "The young adult novel will have integrity if it is written in response to an inner calling, a spiritual necessity. When the impulse to create is pure, when what it seeks is the expression of beauty and goodness, the result is a work that has integrity." His ability to write with integrity, to not shy away from difficult and confusing topics, is what makes me really appreciate his books. I highly recommend them.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes:
-"Being a part of that other dimension is like being with Marisol. We feel as if everything matters. We don't want the moment to end. We're happy and grateful to be with her, we don't ask for anything more than what she gives us...That love and peace, that's what it feels like to live in that other dimension...Our task it is to try. Being a Death Warrior is all in the trying."D.Q. paused for a deep breath. "If we live in accordance with the Death Warrior principles, if we live with gratitude, not wasting any time not loving, we can enter that dimension. That is my faith." p. 311
-She reached up and kissed him on the lips. It was a small kiss. It lasted only two or three seconds, just long enough for him to taste the future. p. 322