Love, Aubrey Summary

Suzanne LaFleur

Love, Aubrey

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Love, Aubrey Summary

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Love, Aubrey is the 2009 debut children’s fiction novel written by American author Suzanne LaFleur. Set in Virginia and Vermont, the story revolves around eleven-year-old Aubrey Priestly in the few months following the death of her father and younger sister in a car accident. When Aubrey awakes not long after the accident to discover that her mother has abandoned her, Aubrey begins living on her own in her Virginia home. Left with only her pet goldfish, Sammy, and cheese and crackers to eat, Aubrey must figure out how to survive by herself until her grandmother shows up to take her to live in Vermont. Thematically, the novel explores isolation, loss, grief, consolation, healing, love, family, and overcoming hardship. According to Booklist, “LaFleur proves she is an author to watch in this debut novel.”

Narrated in the first person past tense by eleven-year-old Aubrey Priestly, the story begins in Virginia. Aubrey lives on her own following the deaths of her father and eight-year-old sister, Savannah, who were fatally hit by a semi-truck on a rainy day. Aubrey enjoys “playing house” alone, watching TV all day and making crackers and cheese for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A week after the deaths of her father and sister, Aubrey’s mother, Lissie Priestly, devastated by the deaths, abandoned the house, leaving Aubrey all alone. As a result, Aubrey has difficulty talking about what has happened to her and wants desperately to find her mother. Aubrey buys a pet goldfish, which she names Sammy, to keep her company.

Aubrey loves to eat SpaghettiOs and Cheerios, spending days by herself without anyone to boss her around. However, she doesn’t tell anybody about what has happened or that she is alone, pretending that everything is fine. The only way Aubrey can express herself is by writing letters to Savannah’s imaginary friend, Jilly. Writing letters seems to be the only thing that gives her a release, even if nobody reads them. The title of the novel refers to the way Aubrey signs off each letter.

After one week of living on her own, Aubrey is visited by her grandmother, Gram. Gram is shocked to find Aubrey alone, but Aubrey claims that Lissie is out running errands and will return soon. When dinnertime arrives, Gram realizes Lissie isn’t going to return. As a result, Gram takes Aubrey to live with her in Vermont, where Aubrey continues to have difficulty speaking about her recent loss. Aubrey continues to write letters to Jilly, as well as to her father, Savannah, and Lissie, though she never mails them to anyone. Gram encourages Aubrey to write “to do” lists every day, which helps Aubrey distract her mind from the grief.

Soon, Aubrey spots a girl playing in Gram’s yard. Aubrey asks who the girl is, and Gram tells her that the girl’s name is Bridget. Aubrey becomes best friends with Bridget, who lives next door with her parents, her sister, Mable, and baby brother, Danny. As Aubrey and Bridget grow closer, Aubrey believes she could have a happy future in Vermont. After another week, Aubrey enrolls in a Vermont middle school, where she begins to make new friends. Life seems to be improving for Aubrey until she receives a letter from her mother. In the letter, Lissie begs Aubrey to return home, claiming that she has changed the color of the house and wants to start a family again. However, Aubrey isn’t sure what she should do.

Aubrey continues to enjoy her new environment, finding solace in her new friendships and relationship with the school counselor, Amy. However, everything changes when Aubrey receives a phone call from her Aunt Janet, whom Aubrey has never met. Gram tells Aubrey that the call is from one of her mother’s college friends, urging Aubrey to take the call. Aunt Janet tells Aubrey that Lissie is staying with her, but can’t speak because she is in counseling. Aubrey doesn’t know how to respond; she’s not sure she wants to leave Vermont to return to Virginia. Aubrey wants Lissie to visit for Christmas. Gram begins making phone calls, including to the police, in order to locate Aubrey’s mother. Eventually, Gram discovers that Lissie is hiding at a friend’s house in Colorado.

Gram visits Lissie for a week, while Aubrey opts to remain in town with her uncle, David. Aubrey does not want to face her mother given all that she has put Aubrey through over the past few months. Eventually, Aubrey speaks with Lissie on the phone; Lissie tells Aubrey that she will visit soon. When Lissie fails to show up for Christmas, Aubrey is upset. Lissie finally arrives, however, and the visit goes well. Lissie expresses her desire for Aubrey to return home with her to Virginia.

By the end of the novel, Aubrey decides to stay in Vermont with Gram to enjoy the company of Bridget and her new friend, Marcus. Through her time spent with Gram and her new friends, Aubrey finds the words to express her feelings that have been repressed for months. In her new environment full of love, family, friendship, and compassion, Aubrey finds the healing power to face the future.

In addition to Love, Aubrey, LaFleur has written five novels, including Eight Keys, Listening for Luca, Beautiful Blue World, Threads of Blue, and Counting to Perfect. Before becoming a professional writer, LaFleur was a competitive swimmer for many years. According to her website, suzannelafleur.com, “Her strokes were sprint freestyle with some butterfly on the side. Her favorite events were the 50 and 100-yard freestyle, and the 200 and 400 freestyle relays.”