The Survival Kit Donna Freitas Book Review

After finishing The Survival Kit by Donna Freitas, I had to immediately let my contemporary loving friends know how great it is. I practically burst into song with praises for The Survival Kit. You see, on first glass at the description, a reader might thing blah, joust another grief book, but I’m here to say with ALL my wisdom – don’t dismiss The Survival Kit. Donna Freitas’s style is similar to Sarah Dessen and honestly The Survival Kit is such a tender book, I loved it.

The Survival Kit Donna Freitas Book Review Cover

The Survival Kit

Rose’s mother died of cancer over the summer. Bereft, Rose finds herself unable to enjoy the same things she did before – music, her boyfriend Chris, cheerleading. Overcome by grief, Rose looks for a favorite dress of her mother’s and finds a survival kit there — with tools to help Rose move past her pain. What ensues is a touching read with unexpected characters, swoons, and yes, some tears.

Yo, I am ALL about a quiet character driven novel. The Survival Kit is one of those books. I thought I would dislike Rose because she’s an it-girl. But you guys, she’s genuine. And then her cheerleader friends I thought would be mean and backbiting. NOPE. Oh, you guys, I feel for Rose’s BFF Krupa, an Indian girl who gave just the right amount of space and tough love.

THEN there is Will, the landscaper hockey player boy who captivates Rose. He’s far from perfect, but brings the swoons hardcore. What I love about him is that he is absolutely not a dick. I hate that I have to point that out about a character, but okay, yes he does some things that I personally, would not do, but when it comes down to it, he’s a great male character.

The plot of The Survival Kit by Donna Freitas isn’t action, action, action – but one drive by the personal growth of the characters. I had deep emotions for the characters – which I think comes from how real The Survival Kit feels. Authentic emotions feel the page. I did not feel manipulated into tears. Instead, I cheered whenever Rose would figure out what an item from her survival kit was for, and whenever her support system would come together. I love that. I like reading a book where I am not constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. And maybe, I make it sound boring because it’s not dramarama, BUT if you are reading for emotions and connections, The Survival Kit  has you covered.

If you are like me and love quiet, character driven books, just place a hold on The Survival Kit at your library or order it. SERIOUSLY CONTEMPORARY GOLD UP IN HURRRR.

Disclosure: Borrowed from my local library.

Other review of The Survival Kit by Donna Freitas:

The Reading Housewives Of Indiana
The Reading Date
Tripping Books
The Allure Of Books

About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Jac @ For Love and Books says

    I am always game for male leads who aren’t dicks… That is getting really old.

    I am always cautious with grief books, but this sounds like one I do need to give a try, now that both you and Ginger have shared how amazing it is. (See, Bloggers DO sell books!)

    Jac @ For Love and Books

  2. I keep hearing such great things about this book, I have to read it! I am so down for quiet, character driven books…and the guy could seem like a dick but actually isn’t? Yep. Sold.

    I totally just put it on reserve at my library.

    Ashley @ Ashley Loves Books

  3. This has been on my TBR list for awhile and I kind of forgot about it. I will have to look for it at the library. I liked The Possibilities of Sainthood (though that was more of a humorous book) and The Survival Kit sounds fantastic and maybe a more character driven novel which I do enjoy. Thanks for reminding me that I need to read this book!

  4. I’m not a huge contemporary fan, but your review makes me want to give it a go.

  5. I’m not a huge contemporary fan, but your review makes me want to give it a go.

  6. Because I’m a cover ho, I don’t think I would pick this one up without your stellar recommendation! I appreciate that, though she’s a popular girl, she’s not mean–and same for her friends. Such a stereotype and, while sometimes true, many times it’s just not!

  7. Seriously, one of my favorite things about The Survival Kit was how incredible all of the characters were. How refreshing, right?! Like, no bitchy girls or douchey guys. Thank you, Donna Freitas, for reinforcing the fact that you can have NICE people in books!

  8. I love your word choice in calling it a “tender book” — this, to me, hits the nail on the head when it comes to “The Survival Kit.” A beautiful read.

  9. So I was on the shelf about reading this one but April! You’ve convinced me. Lovely review.

  10. Nice review! I agree with you on the ‘not feeling like you were manipulated into tears’ sentiment with this book. The grief certainly felt genuine, and Will was a gentle, kind (and flawed!) character. What made me not love the book quite as much as I was going to was the scene at the elementary school. I felt that that was the one jarring piece that didn’t fit. Ah well. I’ll read more Freitas, for sure.

  11. I saw this one months ago on another blog and rushed out (well, typed in the library’s webpage) to search for it… only to find it didn’t come out for a while. Bummer. So naturally I forgot about it except for that tiny part in the back of my mind that would scream “HEY! Remember that book you saw that one time on that blog you don’t follow anymore?!” I probably say this on every comment I leave, but thanks for pointing this one out! I loved how amazingly good it sounded and am happy to finally be reminded of it!

  12. “What I love about him is that he is absolutely not a dick.” – I give this sentence five stars right here.

  13. I loooooved this book! And Rose’s playlist at the back? It’s my go-to playlist when I don’t know what to listen to.


    Hockey boys.

    They’re amazing.

  14. Great review—the description does sound like something I wouldn’t likely pick up, but you’ve totally convinced me to add it to the pile. Thanks for the rec!

  15. I love it that these girls in this book aren’t mean! I didn’t think the popular girls in my school were as mean as many books they depict them as.

  16. I’m so glad you loved this one too! Definitely a book with awesome characters. I’d totally chill in a car talking to Will for hours if I could.

  17. Oh my gracious. Since I’m trying to do more contemps, I feel like I should try this one out, but the grief thing makes me scared. I’m not scared of tender, but the grief thing makes me so sad. Which may be the point.

    Out of the comfort zone and into the fire, April. Doggone it. If I cry, I blame you.
    Asheley (@BookwormAsheley) recently posted..My Thoughts On: Bewitching by Alex FlinnMy Profile

    • That is totally the point, to feel sad, but I promise The Survival Kit is worth the read, because it’s about more than grief, it’s about moving on and being able to find comfort in the living.

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