Surviving on cheese and crackers and television, she doesn't go into the empty bedrooms of those she's lost. When the food runs out, she spends the last of her birthday money on tins of spaghetti. She buys herself a pet fish, to keep her company.
She puts up a sign in the window saying 'On Vacation' and stops answering the phone. She figures that way, nobody will find out that her mother has left her.
Some people have a particular weakness for books that tug at their heartstrings: I don't. I don't like crying and I don't enjoy feeling emotionally drained. Last year, I actually stopped reading a very well-written YA title because I had realised that the ending was going to be too sad for me to bear. And yet somehow I found I could cope with Love, Aubrey, possibly the most heartbreaking novel I've ever read. It's the story of an eleven-year-old girl who, having survived the car accident that killed her father and her little sister, is abandoned by her mother. The kind of story that usually has me bailing out at the first sign of (my own) tears.
Not this time. Love, Aubrey is different. It's not melodramatic. It's not clichéd. It's matter-of-fact and intimate. Suzanne LaFleur communicates what's happened to Aubrey - this terrible, almost unimaginable loss and abandonment - by evoking childhood memories we all have. The brief moment of panic that time when your parent was late to pick you up from school, the day your sibling was taken to hospital with some injury that later turned out to be minor - that's Aubrey's life, every minute of every day. We've all had a tiny glimpse of it, and that's why it hurts.
Intense as this story is, it's also uplifting. Love, Aubrey isn't just about a bereaved and abandoned eleven-year-old. It's about her journey back. It's about kindness and love and hope. It's pragmatic and real, and I can't recommend it enough. Yes, you'll cry a little, but don't let that put you off. Brave your tears.