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Mathilda Savitch

3.15 of 5 stars 3.15  ·  rating details  ·  1,820 ratings  ·  384 reviews
A fiercely funny and touching debut novel about a young girl trying to find out the truth behind her sister’s death

I have a sister who died. Did I tell you this already? I did but you don’t remember, you didn’t understand the code . . . She died a year ago, but in my mind sometimes it’s five minutes. In the morning sometimes it hasn’t even happened yet. For a second I’m c
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published September 15th 2009 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published September 1st 2009)
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223rd out of 315 books — 3,024 voters
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i should wait to comment. i know this...but here's what i figured. you sit down to a meal at a new restaurant. you take the first bite. the food is sublime, the taste is remarkable. that very moment is memorable in its own right. that first impression, that feeling of being introduced to something spectacular. irrelevant if you wind up hating the meal because you stumbled upon a rancid turnip six bites later or you got acid reflux three hours after paying the check. that first bite remains intac ...more
The back cover blurb uses the Catcher comparison, and I'm usually drawn in by that.

The first chapters held promise. I didn't like the character but I hoped that as I read on, I would come to love her in the same way that I love Holden. Both are confused kids who don't communicate effectively with their parents; both have suffered the loss of a sibling; both do really stupid things in an effort to deal with the loss.

However, Mathilda doesn't change. While the inner workings of her mind are fasci
I wanted to love this story, especially after it had been compared to Catcher in the Rye. Like Holden, Mathilda — or "Lufwa" as she'd like to be known — has suffered the loss of a sibling, been emotionally starved by her parents, and communicates in fragments, but that's where the likeness ends.
Like many other reviewers, I felt that the voice in the first half of the book was young, precocious, and sharp but fell apart somewhere between uncovering a handful of emails belonging to her dead sister
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by LadyJay for

Mathilda Savitch believes that her sister, Helene, was murdered - pushed in front of a train by an insane man. The killer is still out there, and no one seems to be doing anything about it.

Mathilda's parents seem oblivious to anything except their own pain. Her mother suffers from bouts of depression, finding solace at the bottom of a bottle. Her father tries to maintain a sense of normalcy, but Mathilda knows it is a façade.

She decides to do some investig
Mathilda Savitch wants to be awful. Like so many adolescent girls, she lies to her parents; steals cigarettes; coerces her friends into illicit activity; riffles through her sibling’s belongings; and ponders that great teenaged imponderable: sex.
What casts her desire to be bad in more uncertain light, however, is the calamity that has produced it: the violent death, a year prior to the novel’s opening, of her older sister, Helene. Emotionally stranded by her parents—torpor-consumed in the wake
Cydni Perkins
I bought this book based on the first sentence, where Mathilda tells the audience that she has decided to be awful. The prose was poetic and wonderful at first, and I expected to luxuriate in the language of this book and savor it, but it was all downhill after the first couple of chapters. Not only does the prose become less poetic, but the story kind of sucks. I mean, I can believe that a teenage girl would think along the lines that Mathilda does, or that she would construct the inner world t ...more
There's a weird contrast going on in this book: the narrator's voice is rapier sharp, tonally perfect, and highly memorable. But the events that take place seem vague, flabby, and a bit scattershot, and the central incident--the death of the narrator's sister--is handled melodramatically. Still, the keenness of Mathilda's observations and the truths she tells make this one more than worth reading.
Alisha Marie
Mathilda Savitch was a pretty unusual read. I thought it was going to be completely different from what it turned out to be. The summary in the back of the book states that Mathilda is trying to find the truth of her sister's death. It's less about her finding the truth than it is about her trying to cope with the grief brought on by her sister's death.

I've read a couple of reviews that mention that the voice of the Mathilda rang false for them. To me, Mathilda was like any other teen girl who w
Lydia Presley
This book made my heart hurt - and not necessarily in the good way that gives you a sense of understanding and hope through the pain. It was just a whole lot of pain.

But don't let me make you think that it wasn't a good book, because it was. It was dark, terrifying, filled with horror, heartache, pain and hurt - everything a coming-of-age story seems to need to reflect the current time. It dealt with heavy issues such as terrorism, suicide, alcoholism, neglect and sexuality, all through the pers
Jennifer Parks
I picked up this book to read recently and I wish I hadn’t. It’s a coming of age tale with a twist: depressing tale of a mentally disturbed teen who feels responsible for her sister’s suicide because she taunted her in frustration one day to just ‘go ahead and do it’. She lies, she antagonizes, she hurts and she is generally wallowing in misery.

There isn’t anything beautiful, uplifting, or edifying about this book. In addition the pacing is frenzied, as if written by an amphetamine addict.
This was our February book club choice, and until we met tonight, I intended to give this book a 2.5 star rating. However, I decided that any book that could engender that much discussion probably deserved 3 stars. Questions we batted around the table: Is this really a fair representation of teen-age girls, even those under psychological distress? Is Mathilda psychologically unbalanced because of the events that have taken place in her family before the book begins, or was she crazy to start wit ...more
I debated about giving this book 2 or 3 stars, and decided to go with 3. I'm obviously not a young adult, but I find many young adult novels are both entertaining and interesting to me. I found myself not liking the characters in this story, especially Mathilda, the main character and about 16 years old. She is so self absorbed, lies constantly, disobeys, pushes her parents and her friends beyond their limits, and makes her own rules.

It's been a year since her older sister Helene died, and she
Ken Vaughan
Mathilda Savitch tells the story of her life so far in this odd but engaging and powerful novel. Though not specifically revealed, she would seem to be around 12 or 13, the remaining daughter of parents so grief stricken at the death of their older, 16 year old daughter a year earlier that they are almost dysfunctional, sleepwalking through life and still unable to deal with their loss, and certainly doing a poor job of parenting. Mathilda, one of the most precocious kids you will ever meet betw ...more
Mathida's beautiful, vibrant, tempestuous older sister, Helene, died a year ago, having been pushed in front of a moving train, and no one in the Savitch family has recovered from the devastating loss. Yet, Mathilda (whose age is never explicitly stated, but whom I would guess is about thirteen) seems to be the only one willing or able to openly mourn. Conversely, her stricken mother, formerly a loving, attentive parent, is slowly disappearing into herself with the help of alcohol; her father, k ...more
Hmmm. What to say about this one? The truth? It didn't match up to the prepublicity I saw. I think Lodato is on the verge of being a wonderful novelist, and shows tons of promise, but I don't think this novel was ready to be released. Though I see lots of 5 starts on it, so maybe it is a question of whether or not you buy the main character.

As an editor, I felt there wasn't enough movement in the character, or nonmanufactured reasons to get here there. And while I am all for experimenting, this
I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, I can agree with some of the blurb above: it was page-turning, and at times heartbreaking. But I feel a lot of the blurb is just as misleading as Mathilda herself.

This is an interesting debut work by Lodato, whose credits include play writing and poetry. At times, the book reads like both a play and an extremely long piece of poetry. He's got a way with words, I'll give him that much. But he fails when trying to capture the voice of a 12-ye
Mathilda Savitch is a young girl (the book never specifies her ages, but I would guess it at around 14) who is living with ghosts. Her sister Helene's tragic death has ripped her family into pieces and she has lost more than just her big sister but also the solid foundations that every child craves. Her parents (and particularly her mother) have become shadows, completely wrapped up in their own personal hells, and shy from even the mention of Helene. Mathilda, as many children would do, acts ou ...more
From page 1, I was hooked on this book. It is a page turner, and the sort of book that you never want to finish; you just want it to go on forever.
The writing style reminded me of ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ J.D. Salinger — the main difference being that the narrator is a teenage girl instead of a teenage boy, but in essence, the way the story is told is very similar, especially as both characters also have issues in regard to their mental health. There are also a couple of references in the book t
REALLY liked this one. Was an unusal read. I read that the author was a poet and I guess that is why, but the style was very stream of consciousness and was constantly sliding in and out of reality, fantasy and memory. It also felt like the narator was in a fugue state, like if you had to paint them, the image would be out of focus. No hard edges.

The title character is a bit odd, no doubt, but very sympathetic in what she is going through. Her sister died the previous year and her mother has su
In this heartbreaking, darkly funny, and poignant novel, we are 'treated' to Mathilda Savitch's inner thoughts on the death of her older sister, her emotionally absent parents, and what it feels like to be trapped in that odd place between child and adulthood. Her thoughts are often fractured and dark, but then punctuated by a moment of exceptional beauty.

Mathilda wants to be awful, but all she accomplishes in showing us is just how vulnerable she truly is. She pinches the family dog, plans the
A day later, and I'm still trying to decide whether or not I enjoyed this book. I am not certain that "enjoy" is the right word to use about a book like this.

At times, it reminded me of Kazuo Ishigiro's "Never Let Me Go" - told in a first-person narrative by someone who decidedly does not have an omniscient view of the world around her, we catch the truth in glimpses and hints, sometimes putting the pieces together before our narrator. The story is not a cheerful Disney tale. Bad things happen,
The narrative voice was so strong in the first couple of chapters that I found it hard to read, and almost put it down. But i was trapped on an airplane, and it was my only option besides SkyMall, so I kept reading, and I'm glad I did. The title character is messed up, but tough, and is struggling through a kind of nervous breakdown following her sister's death. She eventually finds a way to live with the crappy state of the world, the sad state of her family, and her own potentially overwhelmin ...more
Victor Lodato is a prolific playwright, and it shows in the wonderfully vibrant voice of Mathilda Savitch, the pre-teen protagonist in his debut novel. Mathilda wants to be awful, but she's got good reason... her sister was killed by a train one year ago, and Mathilda is coping with parents who are checked out, her own unresolved grief, and burgeoning hormones. On top of all that, she's convinced that her sister was pushed, and she'd love to find out who the culprit was. Mathilda Savitch is a fi ...more
Mai Ling
This book turned out to be sweet -- er, bittersweet -- after a painful jaunt through the mind of disturbed young Mathilda Savitch. Like "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time," it gives you a glimpse of what life is like for children who don't necessarily think like most of us. But in addition to being a bit on the odd side, Mathilda has much too much for a child her age to deal with: the death of her sister, then the deterioration of her family. So what does Mathilda do? She takes m ...more
Coen Vazquez
I started reading this book randomly because I noticed it just won the Discover Award. I had no idea what it was about, I just requested it from the library and started reading. I love to read books this way - without knowing anything about them. It's marvelous and fun. Mathilda Savitch is definitely worth a read. It's a book that kind of... pushes you out of your own mindset. Takes you away and really settles you into someone else's mind for a while. I felt like a different person as I read it. ...more
Don Mitchell
A book about the destructiveness of repressed grief. A family spinning apart. Each member destroying him or herself as well as the others. None willing to talk about their joint grief.

At first I was uncomfortable with the male author speaking through the pubescent girl as she wrestled with new physical and emotional feelings as well as grief, but I think he did a sympathetic job. He did a great job of placing us inside her head and heart.

Overall the book spoke truth about teenage confusion, liv
Oct 11, 2014 Molly rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Molly by: Mom
Shelves: fiction
I really can't stand it when other people have control over the clicker. No one ever watches what you want to watch. And then they always shut the TV off at the wrong moment When I'm watching TV by myself my rule is to shut it off only after something good has happened, or when the last words you hear are not going to hurt you. You don't want to shut it off in the middle of two people having an argument or someone saying pig or death or my car broke down. You want to make sure the last words are ...more
Mathilda is not your ordinary heroine. Mathilda Savitch is not your typical coming of age story. Weaved together by mystery and adventure, Lodato’s novel captures the innocence of childhood and the recklessness of grief.

Let my start by correcting myself. Mathilda is not really a heroine, and she's not built up to be so in any way. She's just a girl with a curious disposition, and a series of questions she's desperate to find the answers to. Her curious nature starts her on a journey in which she
Sarah-Kate Lynch
Mathilda Savitch is 13 and has a much tougher life than most teenagers. Unpopular at school, she also has to contend with being ignored by her parents, who are too busy grieving over the death of her sister the previous year to give her the attention she deserves. Instead she’s trying to get that from her best friend Anna, on whom she has a major crush, and the boy next door, Kevin, who has blue hair. On top of that, she’s trying to crack her sister’s email password so she can find out more abou ...more
Meredith C
Odd. Really, really odd and not always in a good way. Not sure if I liked this or not. The character sounded so compelling and the story.. less so. But she wasn't. And the story, well, what a mess. Wish I could go on without spoiling it. If you like dreamy, crazy characters and limited story, go for it.
Plus side: was able to read it in one sitting just to see if it would get any better
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Victor Lodato is a playwright, poet, and novelist.
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“Isn't language amazing? I can't get over it. Sometimes you can just say things and its like a bomb that blows all your clothes off and suddenly there you are naked. I don't know if its disgusting or beautiful.” 12 likes
“...not everything in your heart makes it to your mouth. A lot of it gets lost on the way.” 9 likes
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