Like the Red Panda by Andrea Seigel

Like the Red Panda by Andrea Seigel
Published by Harvest Books

Seventeen-year-old Stella is planning her suicide. She has two weeks of high school left in Orange County, California, and after graduation she plans to end it all. Her parents died together of drug overdoses when she was eleven, she has no connection with her foster parents, no real friends, and her only living relative is a crotchety, angry grandfather who doesn’t much care for Stella. So she spends the last few weeks of her time sitting back and observing and philosophizing every single detail of her life.

I can’t remember where I first heard of this book, but for some reason I had it in my mind that Like the Red Panda was comparable to The Perks of Being a Wallflower (a book I love). Well, if you plan to read this book, please know that is NOT the case. This book is completely different from any other YA book I’ve ever read, and can’t really be compared to any other novel. So don’t go in with any expectations like I had.

I cannot tell you how much my heart broke for Stella. Her situation is one that no teen should ever have to find themselves in – no family, no real friends, nobody to turn to for love and emotional support. It’s no wonder she doesn’t see the point of living anymore. It was difficult reading the book with the understanding of what she planned to do always looming in the background of everything she did, but as the novel went on I have to admit that I could see where she thought suicide was the answer. Although she had a lot of promise in her and a bright future ahead of her, with no one to love I can see how difficult life would be for a person. It was really heartbreaking.

In the midst of all this suicide talk, though, was an incredibly self-aware and often times hilarious teenager with the most interesting and astute observations about life. Stella is the kind of teenager anyone would want to love, as she is amazingly intelligent, has a great personality, and is wise way beyond her years. The fact that she has so many great characteristics about her makes her situation even sadder, as it’s obvious that had she been placed with the right foster family her life may have turned out a lot differently. I did enjoy reading the novel because she kept me so entertained throughout.

While I enjoyed Like the Red Panda overall, I absolutely hated the ending. I can’t explain why, for obvious reasons, but there’s no getting around that as it really changed the way I felt about the book once I finished it. And that’s all I’ll say about that.

Like the Red Panda is an incredibly unique YA book with a heroine that is impossible not to empathize with. I liked it quite a bit.

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10 thoughts on “Like the Red Panda by Andrea Seigel

  1. I really want to read this one after having read your incredible review. It does sound like a very sad read, and that fact is compounded by the fact that Stella is such an amazing young girl. I am reminded of a cross between The Language of Flowers and The Bell Jar, though I would need to read it to see if I am right! Wonderful review today, Heather. Another one to add to my stack.

    1. I can see bits of The Language of Flowers but I haven’t read The Bell Jar so I can’t really do a comparison between those two. I think you might enjoy it, Heather, but it is quite depressing TBH.

  2. Sometimes the ending can really make a book for me, but it’s definitely not good when it gives you a negative feel for the book! I hear about a lot of really awful things in real life but for some reason books about depression scare me. =/ (As The Bell Jar sits prominently on my TBR, lol)

    1. HA I haven’t read The Bell Jar either. I don’t mind the depression so much but the fact that she was planning her suicide the entire book was quite distressing for me.

  3. I’m very curious about the ending! But I don’t think I will read this, anyway. I don’t like angry-making endings and I’m not quite up for sad sad sad YA novels this week. I’m afraid it will be like Wintergirls! which sapped all my happiness and just made me feel tired and depressed.

    1. Wintergirls WAS a sad book. And this one is too, so maybe stay away. I liked it but it’s definitely more on the depressing side of things.

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