Have You Seen Marie by Sandra Cisneros looks a lot like a child's picture book, but it's really not. It's a gentle, sweet book that deals with the process of mourning.
The story is simple: Sandra is having a difficult time coping with the death of her mother. She feels like "a glove left behind at the bus station." Sandra's friend Roz drives from Tacoma to San Antonio to visit and help her and brings her cat, Marie. But on the very first day, Marie runs away.
As Sandra and Roz search for her, they encounter many people in Sandra's San Antonio community, some who seem like they want to help but can't/won't, some who haven't seen Marie but are willing to share their food and drinks and sympathy, people having musical get-togethers or knitting or who won't even open their doors.
The search for Marie forces Sandra to start breaking out of her cocoon of grief, and to get to know her neighbors, who all have their own stories to tell. Although this sounds precious, it really isn't.
The illustrations are by Ester Hernandez, and they're lovely:
"But they just barked above our voices, except for the rat terrier, who said nothing, too ashamed to disagree with his friends."
"Under the shadow of the Hemisfair tower, in a wooden house off Refugio and Matagorda, a nice couple dining on their porch invited us to look into their bamboo. ...We left with paper plates of brisket, beans, potato salad, and cups of iced tea."
This would be a perfect gift for an adult who's grieving. My thanks to Knopf for sending me a review copy.