Review: The Survival Kit (Donna Freitas)


One of my friends on Goodreads was my best friend back in high school. We haven’t spoken to each other for a long while but she’s quite an avid reader with tastes similar to mine, so every now and then I would stalk her Goodreads shelves to see if something catches my interest. This time around, I saw that she had created a shelf called “Death and Dying” which contained books that were somehow related to death and dying. Notable examples? The Fault in Our Stars, A Walk to Remember, If I Stay. And then there’s The Survival Kit by Donna Freitas.

The cover was what caught my interest first, as it really stood out from the others in that particular shelf. When I read the description, I immediately decided I had to read it because… survival kits! So I grabbed an e-copy and started reading, or more appropriately: started feeling.

The book starts with Rose, right after her mother’s funeral, finding a survival kit that her mother made for her before she died. It then follows Rose’s journey along the first year of living without her mother. There’s so much emotion packed into this book that I found myself crying, then smiling, then feeling hopeless, then getting all warm and fuzzy, and so on along with Rose.

Sure, the synopsis makes it seem like it’s all about falling in love (and I think it won’t be too much of a spoiler to say that yes, Rose ends up with Will, because it was really really obvious), but it wasn’t JUST about that, and even the relationship was far more complicated and realistic then what the synopsis suggests. In fact, it’s so complicated that I’m struggling to write this review because I can’t find the right words to explain just how good this book is. Gosh.

Let me just say that I didn’t think this book was flawless. There were some cringe-worthy moments in it. Some of the things Rose thought and did truly frustrated me. Since the book is written from Rose’s first person point of view, there wasn’t much about the other characters — come to think of it, Rose really was quite self-absorbed. But maybe that’s why the book was believable, and maybe you do then to get self-absorbed when you need to deal with so much pain. After all, you need to give yourself all the love you can give before you can start loving others, right? So yeah. It could have been better, but it was perfect the way it was.
And because for the first time since a long while I actually highlighted something from a work of fiction, two quotes:

[blue_box]Why is it that when we lose something big, we begin to lose everything else along with it?[/blue_box]

[blue_box]Life was fragile and love was, too. At any moment, even our happiest ones, our world could shatter and we wouldn’t see it coming.[/blue_box]

The Survival Kit Book Cover The Survival Kit
Donna Freitas
351 pages

When Rose’s mom dies, she leaves behind a brown paper bag labeled Rose’s Survival Kit. Inside the bag, Rose finds an iPod, with a to-be-determined playlist; a picture of peonies, for growing; a crystal heart, for loving; a paper star, for making a wish; and a paper kite, for letting go.

As Rose ponders the meaning of each item, she finds herself returning again and again to an unexpected source of comfort. Will is her family’s gardener, the school hockey star, and the only person who really understands what she’s going through. Can loss lead to love?


If I had my way, I’d spend the rest of my days at the corner of a coffee shop, reading, writing, and talking to the one I love.


  1. Lovely review! I struggle with writing reviews too. It usually happens when I really loved the book, and can’t express my feelings. ^_^ I’ve been reading and watching lots of emotional stuff lately, and I’m intrigued with the title of this book. Added it to my wish-list!

    1. Yes, the good books are always the hardest. Some days all I want to write is “Just read this book. NOW.” 😀

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