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After the Death of Anna Gonzales

After the Death of Anna Gonzales

by Terri Fields

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A powerful look at the effects of one girl's suicide on her high school

Brutally honest and authentic in tone, this collection of voices centers on the suicide of high school freshman Anna Gonzales. Each piece, read alone, portrays a classmate's or teacher's personal reaction to the loss, taken hard by some, by others barely noticed. Read together, the poems create a richly textured and moving testimony to the rippling effects of one girl's devastating choice. Terri Fields has written a thought-provoking, important work that resonates with both pain and hope. This is a book that will stay with readers long after they put it down.

In support of Suicide Prevention Month, the book AFTER THE DEATH OF ANNA GONZALES will be available for FREE for September, 2020 only. The collection of poems of 47 people's reactions to learning of a teen's suicide has been successfully performed as readers theater. To obtain permission for the free rights to perform it during Suicide Prevention Month, please contact

Ebony Lane
Senior Rights Manager
Macmillan Children's Publishing Group
120 Broadway, 24th Floor
New York, NY 10271

Praise for After the Death of Anna Gonzales:

“Readers will gain some important insight into the serious issue of teen suicide through this treatment of the topic.” —School Library Journal

“The poems are natural and direct, and portray a high-school setting well, showing a diversity of experiences. . . . [F]or Mel Glenn fans, or as a resource for dealing with teen suicide, this will be useful in most YA library collections.” —Kirkus Reviews

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781466859524
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date: 12/10/2013
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 112
Sales rank: 1,076,968
Lexile: NP (what's this?)
File size: 245 KB
Age Range: 12 - 18 Years

About the Author

Terri Fields is the author of more than a dozen books, including middle-grade novels such as Holdup and After the Death of Anna Gonzales. She is also an educator, and was named--among other honors--Arizona's Teacher of the Year and selected to the All-USA Teacher Team. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

Terri Fields is the author of more than a dozen books, including middle-grade novels such as Holdup and After the Death of Anna Gonzales. She is also an educator, and was named--among other honors--Arizona's Teacher of the Year and selected to the All-USA Teacher Team. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

Read an Excerpt

After the Death of Anna Gonzales

By Terri Fields

Henry Holt and Company

Copyright © 2002 Terri Fields
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-5952-4


    Lisa McNair

    I can feel
    The whispering of the hallway walls
    Growing louder as the groups gather.
    Each clique adding its morning input.

    "Did you hear?"
      "Who told you?"
    "Do you think it's really true?"

    New at this school,
    I stand alone.

    Watching ...
    A group of girls plot
    For Homecoming only days away.

    "He might ask ..."
      "Try to run into him."
        "No one is wearing purple."
    "But if Julio goes with Gina, then ..."

    Seeing ...
    A brown-eyed boy aim a slight nod and slow smile
    At a green-eyed girl.
    Who seems not to see him but somehow moves closer.

      "Hey yourself."

    Hearing ...
    A boy beg for finished algebra homework to copy.
    Hoping someone will save him.

    "No time to do it."
      "Impossible anyway."
    "Teacher's a witch."

    My first week at this school.
    Seeing but not really being seen.
    Trying to figure out how I will fit in.

    Listening to the rhythms of this new place.
    Already I am able to pick up some familiar refrains.

    Yet sandwiched among this morning's murmurs
    Today's hallway hints at something more horrible.

    "I heard ..."
      "Who was it?"
    "How'd she do it?"
      "Wonder if it hurt?"
    "Anyone know why?"

    The gossip gets grabbed by Senior Square.

    "Found out it was just some freshman."
      "Did she leave a note?"
    "Don't know."
      "Probably not true."

    "I think about it once in ..."

    The blaring of the bell.

      Lockers slam.
      Students scatter.

    And I start another day at this new school ... wondering.

    Principal Barron

    Thirty years in education.
    I've broken up fights.
    Fired a teacher.
    Failed a student.
    But not this.
    This is too much to ask.

    "Volleyball practice has been moved to 5:00 P.M.
      The chess club will meet today in
        Mr. Malkin's room."

    Thirty years in education.
    I've learned school law.
    Listened to angry parents.
    Located lost school buses.
    But not this.
    This is too much to ask.

    "Congratulations to the JV football team on last
      night's 14?0 win against the Raiders.
        Student Council will be selling spirit T-shirts
          during both lunch hours all week."

    To make a difference.
    To better kids' lives.
    That was why I went into education.
    So how does this happen?
    How do I ...

    "Mr. Barron, announcements are almost over.
      Do you still have a special?"

    I trudge toward the camera.

    "And now for a special from our principal."

    Words caught in unwilling voice.

    "I am sorry to tell you of the death
      of one of our students."

    Must continue.
    Rumors always worse than truth.

    "Anna Gonzales took her life last night.
    Our sympathies to her family and friends.
      Grief counselors will be available all day."

    Robotlike move off camera.
    As a chirpy voice concludes,

    "And those are today's announcements.
      Have a nice day."

    Damon Reingold

    The game doesn't always go your way.
    I know.
    You can go to every practice
    Even when your shoulder aches
      Your ankle throbs
      Your homework waits.
    You can do 100 hand-offs
      1,000 free throws
      10,000 reps
    And still sit on the bench
    You watch Darrith Evans
      Slack off
      Skip practice
      Showboat for Debbie
    And still be part of the
      Starting five.

    The game doesn't always go your way.
      Forget fair.
      Feel forgotten.
    But damn it, Anna,

      You don't stop playing.

    Manuel Ramirez

    I'm on my way to class.
    Tardy bell hasn't even rung.
    When Mrs. Bernstein, the scholarship aide,
    Stops me and calls me into her office.

    "Manuel," she says, "do you think of yourself as mature?"
      "I guess ..."
    "Do you think of yourself as intelligent?"
      I shrug — "My grades are pretty good."
    "Do you think you're a good representative of this school?"
      I have no idea what she's getting at.

    "Well, we do," she continues.
    School announcements start.
    Mrs. Bernstein turns them off.
    "What I'm trying to tell you is
    That's why the faculty submitted your name
    For the National Future Leader Award."

      "The what?" I ask.

    "Remember I asked you for your government essay?
    We submitted it and five faculty recommendations.
    I didn't say anything to you because
    We've never had a winner here before ...

    "But, Manuel, you won!" she says.
    "You're going to Washington, D.C., for a whole week, all expenses paid."

      "Wow!" I manage to croak.
      I've never even been out of this city before.

    "Congratulations!" She smiles and hands me a stack of papers.

    In a daze, I walk into my first-hour class,
    Put the pass on Mrs. Johnson's desk,
    And feel my face flaunting an ever-growing grin
    As I begin what has already been
    The best day of my life.

    Kathleen Hays

    My brother was seven
    When they told us the bad news:
    It was a tumor
    That had bloomed in his body
    Like a weed.

    Seven surgeries, and still he smiled.
    We had his eighth birthday party in the hospital.
    He said he could feel that he was almost well.
    And we celebrated.

    At nine, they said new cells had sprouted.
    The chemo was strong.
    The cancer was stronger.

    But ... in spite of the pills and the pain,
    In spite of the surgeries and suffering,
    He chose life.

    And you, Anna, who had health,
    Chose death.

    How could you?

    Jason Foley

    "Life's rough, and then you die."

    That's what the sign above the restaurant sink
    Says in big red letters.
    Only there's a grease spot that covers the i.

    I work kitchen clean-up
    Illegally because I'm too young,
    But they pay me in cash
    And I hide most of it from my dad
    So he won't drink it away.

    It took me seventeen days and three hours
    To earn enough
    For my fine new shoes.
    But they were definitely worth it.

    I don't know who stole 'em — yet.
    But I will.
    Believe it.

    And when I do,
    I'll take care of things.
    Know it.

    Meanwhile, I work and watch the big red letters
    That say
    "Life's rough, and then you die,"
    And I think,
    Not me.
      Not yet.

    Francine Bradishio

    I will not talk when the teacher is talking.
    I will not talk when the teacher is talking.
    I will not talk when the teacher is talking.
    I will not talk when the teacher is talking.
    I will not talk when the teacher is talking.
    I will not talk when the teacher is talking.
    I will not talk when the teacher is talking.
    I will not talk when the teacher is talking.
    I will not talk when the teacher is talking.
    I will not talk when the teacher is talking.
    I will not talk when the teacher is talking.
    I will not talk when the teacher is talking.
    I will not talk when the teacher is talking.
    I will not talk when the teacher is talking.
    I will not talk when the teacher is talking.
    I will not talk when the teacher is talking.

    My wrist hurts.
    My thumb is numb.
    And the pain in my fingers is fierce.

    God ... I still have 434 sentences to do before fourth hour.

    When Mrs. Ebert assigned them yesterday,
    She said, "I hope this teaches you a lesson."

    And it has.

    There's no way I'm getting in trouble for talking in English again.
    As soon as I get to class today, I'm going straight to sleep.

    Ricky Stevens

    The one
    Who always does just what adults expect.

    Referred to as

      Until today.
    When I took the checkered flag.
    And left behind Mom and Dad's
    Lists of "notes for when we're out of town."
    Which, by the way, never actually said,
    "You cannot take Dad's new Corvette!"

    Now, as I sit through these never-ending announcements,
    I can still feel my hands gripping the wheel.
    My foot flooring the gas.

    I'll be free again at three,
    To ease back into the soft black leather seats

    And downshift into the winds of

    Wonder if I should offer Lynn a ride?

    Lauren Reynolds

    Since September,
    I sat one seat behind Anna in algebra.
    Passed papers to her every day.
    Studied for tons of tests together.

    Though it often seemed impossible,
    We always found the unknown for X.

    But not this time.
    This equation
    Bounces against my brain.
    And sneers at all attempted answers.

    I know I'll re-examine the variables,
    And reanalyze the unknowns, maybe forever.
    It won't matter.

    Because, Anna —
    I know I'll never figure out Y.

you didn't want to live —
    And Y I never noticed.

    Debbie Hill

    We agreed.
    Together, all ten.
    We'd stand in a line,
    And on the downbeat we all kick at exactly the same height.
    But not Emily.

    She always makes sure her leg lifts a little higher than mine.
    Does she think I don't notice?
    She says she just doesn't know why
    Her sweater fits so perfectly,
    And wonders why mine looks a little baggy.
    The answer is easy.
    She shrank hers until it became a second skin.

    She thinks she's flashy.
    I think she's trashy.

    She does her high kicks for Darrith.
    Let her.
    I don't dance for him or anyone else.

    Music just makes me want to move.
    The downbeat begins,

    And the adrenaline rushes.
    The crowd becomes a blur.

      Oops, the announcements ended.
    So how come everyone's just sitting here so quietly?
    It's only English.
    Boring, but
    It's not like somebody died or anything.

Darrith Evans

I can picture it all now:

Me: Coach, I'm sorry, but I just don't feel right about practicing today.

Coach: But we've got a big game tomorrow.

Me: Coach, I won't let you down.
I'll be there.
You can count on me.
But today ...
I just can't —
I mean, Anna ...

Coach: I didn't know you knew her.

Me: (looking down at the floor — catch in my voice)
I do have a life outside of basketball.

Coach: (putting his hand on my shoulder)
I'm sorry, son.
Skip the practice.
Go be with the Gonzales family.

    Anna Gonzales, I never knew you.

    Although you were probably in the stands
    Watching me play.

    I'm sorry you took your life.
    But I can't get it back for you.
    So you might as well help me.

    See, I just cannot make Coach understand
    That unlike most
    Of the guys on our team
    I don't need all these practice sessions.
    I always come through in the games.
    So why can't Coach just let me be?

    Andrea Brensk

    In seventh-hour Spanish,
    Anna Gonzales sat in the second row, second seat.
    How do I know?
    Every day, I wished I could trade places with her.

    Spanish is the only class I have with Chad Alexander.
    That most gorgeous and very shy guy.
    I don't think Anna ever noticed him.
    Even though in group work
      She always got paired with Chad.

    Me —
    I'm stuck on the other side of the room.
      With god-awful Greg Mendez.
      And his ox-snorting laugh.

    So I'm wondering if today is too soon
    To ask Ms. Alvarez if I could switch seats.
    I mean ...
    I don't want anyone to think I'm insensitive.

    But I don't want to miss the moment.
    And have someone else sneak into the seat that should be mine.

    I know that I could find the right language
    For me and Chad.
    If I could just improve our geography.

    Chad Alexander

      Anna Gonzales ...

    There's an Anna in my Spanish class.
    A million times we said "¿Cómo te llamas?"
    But we never answered with last names.
    Still, somehow I think it might be her.

      Suicide ...

    Anna seemed normal enough,
    But how much can you know
    When working together to conjugate
    The present tense of hablar?

    If it is the same Anna, her seat's gonna be empty.
    Not just absent empty — but forever empty.
      Very weird.
        Too weird.

    Maybe Mark could move into that seat.
    Then we could do Spanish skits about baseball.
    "Uno, dos, tres strikes and you vamos from the old ball game."
    It would make seventh hour más bueno.

    Otherwise, this girl Andrea may try to move there.
    Fourteen of her friends have told me she likes me
    A lot.
    She sits in the back of the room, but she's always
    Giggling and staring at me.
    I pretend not to notice.

    She'd be better off with Greg.
    Geeks like those two
    Really should stick together.

      Actually, I hope ...

    Anna will be in her seat seventh hour
    And life will go on, just like it's supposed to.

    Mitch S. Foster

    I guess Anna didn't find out that you could opt out
    Without really leaving.
    I did
      A long time ago.

    The rest of my family is the roaring center of success.
    And the model for superstress.

    My dad is the proud owner of four fine classic cars,
    Which no one ever drives.
    In number, they match his four heart attacks.

    My mom is #1 in sales
    And my older sister's straight A's are delivered
    As expected.

    My family feels that
    The entrance to our house is
    The driveway to the top.


    And I —
    Realizing I could never compete on any other level —
    Have become their number one failure.

    Actually, I'm very good at doing nothing.
    And so, declaring my own sort of victory,
    I long ago opted out of their high-stakes game.

    Andy Gotchalder

    Get out our homework?
    You gotta be kidding, Mrs. Johnson!
    How can we just go over algebra
    Like nothin' happened or anything.
    Shouldn't we be like ... I don't know,
    Shouldn't we be quiet or something this hour?

    Yeah, well, I am a sensitive guy,
    I just get a bad rap.
    Maybe we could put on music and think ...
    You know ...
    I've got a good CD.

      Turn in our homework and then we can
      Have time to reflect?
    My homework?
      Well, I don't have it.
    Where is it?
      Actually, I didn't do it.
    Why not?
      Ah, come on, Mrs. Johnson, you know, last night was Thursday.
      And that's way too close to the weekend for homework.


Excerpted from After the Death of Anna Gonzales by Terri Fields. Copyright © 2002 Terri Fields. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
Lisa McNair,
Principal Barron,
Damon Reingold,
Manuel Ramirez,
Kathleen Hays,
Jason Foley,
Francine Bradishio,
Ricky Stevens,
Lauren Reynolds,
Debbie Hill,
Darrith Evans,
Andrea Brensk,
Chad Alexander,
Mitch S. Foster,
Andy Gotchalder,
Mrs. Johnson, Algebra Teacher,
John Morgan,
Sharlee Williams,
Kimmy Nelson,
Carrie Sells,
Eric Sueffert,
Tammy Billet,
Alexis Jimers,
Martin Martinez,
Lynn Helter,
Shannon Delany,
Mandy Krantz,
Tiffany Gibson,
Jenna Etkin,
Ms. Mason, English Teacher,
Aaron Sherman,
Randal Mallander,
Mike Bradler,
Karen Covington,
Kendra Jones,
Lanny Laring,
Michelle Magden,
Jeff Cook,
Ms. Standring, Attendance Secretary,
Jermaine Clements,
Julio Contraros,
Leslie Leiberman,
Sean Saunders,
Kinderlyn Hovoticich,
Jordan Smythe,
Andrew Stevenson, Security Guard,
Jamie McSully,
Anna Gonzales (the Note),
About the Author,

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