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Alexandra Villasante Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Grief Keeper (2019) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Alexandra Villasante is an American author of young adult novels popularly known for her debut novel The Grief Keeper. She has always loved and enjoyed telling stories. She has an MA in Combined Media and BFA in Painting. She was born in New Jersey to her Spanish immigrant parents. When not writing, you will find her chasing chickens, painting, or planning fundraisers for non-profits and conferences. She is a resident of Pennsylvania, where she lives with her family.

Alexandra’s debut novel, The Grief Keeper is a story for the readers who want to get dirty with emotions and want some romance that’s sweetly won.

The Grief Keeper

The Grief Keeper introduces us to a 17year old who has always dreamed of becoming an American citizen. She learns what the Americans are like from television shows and through an elderly expat names Mrs. Rosen. When she imagined American life, she pictured that it would be like that of her favorite TV characters, Aimee and Amber. She never imagined fleeing home under threat of death and crossing to the US as an illegal immigrant, but after her brother is killed and her younger sister life placed in danger, she has no other choice left because she knows it’s all her fault. If she had never fallen for the tricks of a girl named Liliana, her brother Pablo might still be alive, and her mom wouldn’t be hiding and she and her sister Gabi would have never been caught crossing the US border.

But the two have been arrested, and their asylum request will be denied. With no other options she could think of, Marisol grabs an unusual opportunity to live in the United States. She is requested to become a grief keeper. This means she will be taking the grief of others into her own body in order to save a life. This is a risky experiment, but if it means that she can keep her younger sister safe, she will take the risk. But she never imagined that one of the dangers of being a grief keeper is falling in love, a love so strong to help her overcome her grief.

The Grief Keeper is a sweet story that explores the heartbreak and the results of when both human beings and love are branded illegal. The novel is a unique juxtaposition of science fiction, and something that you don’t get to see in Latin youth literature and the undocumented illegal border crossing story, which is quite common within the field. This combination creates a unique experience for the readers. Given the prevalence of immigration stories, any addition upon that theme is welcome. The Grief Keeper is a heartbreaking and sad read. The main character is an undocumented asylum seeker. She is often abused as a human test subject for an experiment; no one else would agree as a volunteer.

While focusing on Marisol and her sister Gabi, who have escaped from El Salvador fleeing for their lives, this story opens up with Marisol well planned preparations to plead for her case for asylum. But through the descriptions, there’s always a hint that she’s untruthful with the officials. When she suspects that the immigration officials suspect that she could be lying, she plots an escape with her sister Gabi only to be picked up and taken to a medical facility and promised asylum if she participates in the medial trial. The medical trial serves as a backdrop for the budding romance between Marisol and Rey. This is a story about corruption, danger, violence, and love on both sides of the border.

The author’s prose is detailed and immersive, transporting directly into Marisol’s world and experience everything first hand with her. Villasante also gives frank discussions of depression, grief, suicidal thoughts, and anxiety. For any reader who struggles with mental health, The Grief Keeper is a different sort of validation and hope. The romance is exciting, and the blend of genres and themes is intriguing.

This novel would be fantastic to teach contemporary topics, whether in a social studies class, government class, or literature class. It would also make a good read in the discussions along with medical experimentation. The story shares with experiments conducted on the minority populations from Jewish people during the Holocaust to the Native American.

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