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Dear Vincent

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  399 ratings  ·  69 reviews
17 year old Tara McClusky's life is hard. She shares the care of her paralysed father with her domineering, difficult mother, forced to cut down on her hours at school to help support the family with a part-time rest home job. She's very much alone, still grieving the loss of her older sister Van, who died five years before. Her only source of consolation is her obsession ...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published June 7th 2013 by Random House NZ
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Average rating 4.21  · 
Rating details
 ·  399 ratings  ·  69 reviews

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Jun 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Dear Vincent is one of the most powerful, emotionally-charged books I’ve ever read. I don’t think I’ve had such an emotional response to any other book, both adults or YA. The story is narrated by Tara, so you experience all the ups and downs of Tara’s life and you go into the dark spaces inside her head. When you figure out the path that she is taking, you just want to yell at her to stop and think clearly. You want to be the person that she can talk to and help her see sense.

Like Mandy’s other
Donna Le Marquand
Nov 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Every now and then a book comes along that reminds me why I love to read and why it is so important. A good book allows us to be transported, to walk in someone else’s shoes, to learn, to love, to empathise – this book does all this and more.

Tara is 17 years old, her father is debilitated by a stroke, her mother is emotionally removed and angry, and Tara has just found out her beloved sisters death was suicide.

Through her love of painting Tara finds a connection with Vincent van Gogh’s art and
Sep 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
I chose this book because I fell in love with the cover. I love Vincent Van Gogh's works, and Starry Night is a particular favourite.
In Dear Vincent Mandy Hager interweaves the stories of troubled teen Tara McClusky with her fascination with Vincent Van Gogh and the tragic story of her sister's death five years previously. Tara's parents are harsh and her life is hard since her father's stroke as she shares the around-the clock care with her bitter aggressive mother, afternoon shifts at a nursi
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's only less one star because it was so good at portraying the mood of the story that I feel all angry and angsty still, so I'm not blown away. I mean, it's so good that those feelings have stayed with me and I'm very emotional right now.
So the take away:
Good book, recommend.
Me = emotional.
Adele Broadbent
Jun 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
No punches pulled on this novel from the award winning NZ author Mandy Hager.
Love, Family, Secrets and everything to draw you in, make you cry and love this book!
Jul 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I haven't read a book this emotionally driven in a very long time. It came to my attention through a friend who ranks this as one of his favourite books, and I would have to say after some long nights staying up to devour this story, and finding myself lost in its pages; I feel the same.

Dear Vincent is about a young girl called Tara. She has very difficult family circumstances (forgive the vagueness, I am trying to stay spoiler-free) and releases a lot of her feelings and stress through her art
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book had the most beautiful imagery and put me in a good mood for the rest of the night.
Aug 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is so so sad, I had dreams about it, I thought about it, I carried it around in my mind. While I read it I kept remembering watching the news as a child, those Irish troubles which were on the news night after night, Bernadette Devlin, Bloody Sunday, things I didn't really understand as a child but which filled our lounge with stories of grief and anger. I never really thought about the people behind those stories but this book bought that aspect home to me in technicolor, unlike the storie ...more
Jun 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
1)I chose to read this book because the Vincent Van Gogh artwork on the cover caught my eye and I wanted to know what the book was about, so I read the blurb and decided i would read the book.
2)A character in this book I found interesting was Tara McClusky. What made her interesting for me was how much she loved art and painting and how she would use it to express how she was feeling at that moment. Also I found that she was really easy to relate to which helped me see things from her perspectiv
May 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: want-to-own
This book is about Tara, who is a talented painter, and her trying to cope with her sister's death and her family situation. Her dad had multiple strokes and she has to care for him and work every day after school, until it all gets too much.
Every chapter begins with a quote from one of Vincent van Gogh's letters. The van Gogh type is actually what made me pick the book up; Starry Night just stared at me from the cover.
Even though the protagonist has serious problems (I really hope she'll get he
Oct 01, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's difficult to know how to rate and review this book. After I first read some, I was annoyed that the main character was unusually talented, erudite, articulate and admired by all the adults in the book (excepting her parents). People who are depressed, having a hard time coping with their life or events in it, or thinking about suicide are normal people, who don't necessarily have a particular talent or the support of caring adults. I suppose they're not novel-worthy. Once I'd read more, I w ...more
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-star
I don't know if any book has ever struck me as hard as this one. I don't think I've ever thought of a book as magic until this one. I don't think a book has stuck with me this long until this one. I first read this four whole years ago, and it remains one of the most affecting books I've ever read. Maybe to another it wouldn't be all I say it is, but I have never met such twisted, imperfect, lifelike characters within pages before. It's taken me four years to figure out how to express all the th ...more
Lorraine Orman
May 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A heart-felt and searing story about a teenage girl battling problems with her dysfunctional family. Everything seems to be going against Tara - until friends appear unexpectedly in her life. But she still has demons to tackle, and a trip to Ireland to visit her sister's grave brings another challenge - the most dangerous one yet. You'll reach the last page with tears in your eyes. Heartily recommended for a riveting read. ...more
Kathleen Dixon
Aug 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teen-reading
What I love about this book is the way a love of art, the beauty of Vincent van Gogh's paintings and the tragedy of his life, and a modern-day dysfunctional household, are integrated in this fabulous teen-readers' novel. And I've been singing the lines I remember of Don McLean's Vincent for the last 2 weeks while I've been spreading this book out for the sheer pleasure of it! ...more
Jan 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
I thought this book was really great, I felt like it made me love and appreciate Vincent Van Gogh's work even more than I already did and I just thought it had a very strong presence over all. Reading it made me sad, joyful and generally worried over characters fates. I recommend this book a lot, it's a bit heavy to read in parts, as it does touch on the subject of suicide, but it still manages to create an uplifting feeling. All in all, a fantastic novel. ...more
Dec 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
The subject matter in this book is sad but it's done in a very sensitive way and the book is very good and not a difficult read, I thought perhaps it could have been deeper but as it's partly a YA book perhaps for the best, I loved the descriptions of the Van Gogh paintings ,my favourite artist. And had no hesitation in giving it 4 stars and would recommend. ...more
Julie James
Wonderful book, that I would highly recommend for anyone, particularly teens. Deals with very gritty subject matter such as suicide and dysfunctional families. Its very 'real' feeling and doesn't glamorise or gloss over anything. ...more
Jul 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A hugely complex, emotional book that takes the reader almost to the edge of Tara's despair and then reins her back. There is a wisdom which pervades this writing that makes this a book that isn't 'try hard' or superficial. I loved Tara's grittiness and the way she comes out of her darkness. ...more
Dec 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nbhs, read-2014
I've just finished reading this and suspect I will be thinking about it for some time yet. Big themes, big anger, big love...amazing for a small book.
It has also made me really want to go back to the Musee d'Orsay and stare at Van Gogh's. They are quite something in the flesh.
Feb 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Actual rating 4.5 stars.

*sighs* THIS BOOK. Gives me alllllll the emotions every time, I tell you. *dreamy smile* Sooooo good!
Madi Ojala
Very touching, beautifully written and deeply relatable.
Aug 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"For God's sake, tell me how to deal with this anger, this storm inside. Yours ate away at you; built into moods so dark they warped your mind. How the hell do I stop that from happening to me?"

I had my eyes on this story for a while and let me tell you, it didn't disappoint me at all. We need this kind of YA contemporaries a lot more.
Tara is a teenager with a lot of on her plate; at the beginning she finds out that the sister she had lost five years ago was it because of suicide, a violent
May 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is not only a 5-star book, it's a "touched my heart" book.

The story is heartbreaking, it's almost triggering at times: I cried a handful of times.
Grief, suicide and abuse are not easy subjects but it's been beautifully done here. I have rarely felt as strongly as I felt for Tara: I wanted to take her in my arms and whisper in her ear that everything would be okay in the end. That's how much I ended up caring about her.

I have absolutely loved the references to Van Gogh and his works. It som
Octavia Cade
3.5 stars, rounding up to 4. It loses points because I am beyond sick of seeing rape as tragic backstory in my fiction. However, the way that Vincent van Gogh is integrated into this book is so excellent (he's one of my favourite artists) that it almost makes up for it. It's a compelling read that's relatively low on the melodrama, which can't have been easy given the subject matter, but that low-key approach makes it all the more effective. The main character is relatable and I felt for her a l ...more
Clara Maria
Dec 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It's not uncommon for people, friends, myself, to underestimate YA fiction. However, Dear Vincent is a slap in the face for those who do. It's wonderfully written, and unafraid to venture into deeper waters without any kitsch to it. I think it could strike anyone's heart, but as a teenager Dear Vincent really captures teenage struggle (not that mine are any where as serious as Tara's). For me, that helps immensely because often one feels alone in their struggles without realising that no one is ...more
Kaye Arnold
Jun 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Even though this book is about dealing with suicide of a sibling and growing up in a less-than-loving home, I enjoyed it a lot. I loved the references to Van Gogh's art and the history of troubles in Ireland. I don't usually rate New Zealand authors, but will eat my hat.....I loved this writer! A topical theme that would make for interesting discussion with fellow book group members...... ...more
Thúy An
Dec 02, 2017 rated it liked it
dunno what to make out of this book..i did resonated w Tara,even shed bucket of tears along ,really liked The references to paintings etc.but i find it still lacking smth .smth essential,there fore just 3(3.5)stars
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Woah. That was hard to read. So much emotion and pain and all that fun stuff, and yet written so well. Of course, I also have to mention the fact that it is set in New Zealand. I will always appreciate opening a book and finding places I've been to, phrases I use, and just general New Zealandness. ...more
Jul 24, 2018 rated it did not like it
I can't remember now why I wanted to read this book. Did it have good reviews? I bought it in eBay because I couldn't find it anywhere in the USA. I didn't care for hardly any of the characters. I am not sure why Van Gogh's name had to be associated with this book. ...more
Amanda Witt
Jul 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
A great read, each chapter features a Van Gogh quote. The usual teenager angsts with parents and school, ending with the main character going overseas to where her older sister died, at the age she is now.
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Mandy Hager is a multi-award winning writer of fiction, most often for young adults. She has won the LIANZA Book Awards for Young Adult fiction 3 times (‘Smashed’ 2008, ‘The Nature of Ash’ 2013, ‘Dear Vincent’ 2014), the NZ Post Children’s Book Awards for YA fiction (‘The Crossing’ 2010), an Honour Award in the 1996 AIM Children’s Book Awards (‘Tom’s Story’), Golden Wings Excellence Award (‘Juno L ...more

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