Author: Andrea Seigel.
Stella Parrish is seventeen, attractive, smart, deeply alienated, and unable to countenance life’s absurdities. She is not nihilistic; she is prematurely exhausted. Since her parents OD’d on designer drugs when she was eleven, she has lived with well-meaning but inexperienced foster parents, while her grandfather, her only living relative, tries ever more ingenious ways of committing suicide in his retirement home. Here are the last two weeks of Stella’s senior year in Orange County, California: the intensive AP final exams; the childish, celebratory trips; the totemic importance attached to graduation. Beneath Stella’s mordantly funny take on her life is the decisiveness with which she disengages from it, planting clues and providing explanations for those who will try to understand the act she is about to commit. (Published summary.)
As the story of an atheistic girl’s loss of hope for meaning in life, and subsequent slide into clinical depression and suicide, Like a Red Panda is certainly well-written in terms of believability and depression on the reader. It was not the type of story I meant to pick up, and I didn’t enjoy it.
Sexual content: Young girl asking a neighbor if he has a scavenger-hunt item, “he gave me the most lecherous gaze” and suggests they come in. (They refuse). Some lewd rhymes carved into a desk. “One intentionally dropped his pencil under the table so he could look up her jean skirt.” Character’s grandfather tells her about how he and his wife cheated on each other (?). Teenaged character has sex in a car with her boyfriend – the scene is explicit. (And a second time, later.)
Language: 16 scatological terms, 12 F-words, 9 hell, 8 derogatory terms, 3 d***
Violence: Character’s parents died of drug abuse. Character finds her grandfather trying to kill herself. Character plans how to kill herself – it is implied that she does (after the book ends).