Liz Emerson paid enough attention in physics class to devise a suicide plan that involves driving off an icy road and making it look like a mistake. BLiz Emerson paid enough attention in physics class to devise a suicide plan that involves driving off an icy road and making it look like a mistake. But she didn’t understand enough about physics for an instant success. As readers we meet her in the hospital, incapacitated by the devastating car accident that resulted from her plan. And that’s also where we meet her family and friends. Told from rotating points of view including her own, her friends and an unidentified other narrator, this book moves back and forth in time between the present, the months leading up to the crash, and years before as Liz, her family and friends become the damaged people they are when we meet them. This is an emotional book that follows in the tradition of many of the new classics of realistic YA literature. It has a non-linear narrative structure and the diverse perspectives of multiple narratives. And like so many realistic fiction books it explores themes of loyalty, friendship, interconnection and identity while also tackling the issues of bullying, eating disorders, sexuality, drug use and the pressures of modern teen life. There are a lot of parts to the story but Zhang capably weaves them together. I would recommend this book to teens who liked 13 Reasons Why or If I Stay because it packs the same emotional punch while demanding of readers both empathy and the effort to understand the characters and their relationships. There are some more mature themes in the book and that will likely put it out of reach for many middle school readers. But high school readers and older teens should find much that resonates, not surprising in a book by a writer who was 18 when it debuted. ...more
Sixteen-year-old Aysel already knows that she wants to kill herself. She has thought about how she will do it and spends most of her days at school anSixteen-year-old Aysel already knows that she wants to kill herself. She has thought about how she will do it and spends most of her days at school and work looking forward to it all being over. Everything changes though when she stumbles upon a website that has postings about suicide partners. This is how she meets FrozenRobot (also known as Roman) and decides that in just under a month they will commit suicide together. After the two meet, they quickly start putting together their plan. For Aysel, this means confronting some of her inner demons and Roman is along for the ride. But as the two spend more and more time together, Aysel starts to realize that maybe the big black slug living her in gut, what she calls her depression, is not everything she thought it was. Will it be too late to talk to Roman about wanting to live and will he even listen to her?
Warga has written an emotional and powerful novel that is frank about teen suicide and everything that surrounds it. Aysel is a relatable character that is not very up front at first about how she got to the point of no longer wanting to live. Eventually as she gets to know Roman more, readers are let into her world exploring both her and Roman’s fears about life and all its many black holes.
One fault with this book was that it felt a little sudden when Aysel decides to change her fate and there is not a lot of explanation as to why or how this happens. Warga also leaves a lot of loose ends at the end of the book which was frustrating as a reader. Overall though, this is a strong read about a very difficult topic. ...more
Two extremely different teenage girls read the poems of Emily Dickinson for the first time in their high school English class. Emily Delgado is a smarTwo extremely different teenage girls read the poems of Emily Dickinson for the first time in their high school English class. Emily Delgado is a smart, sheltered girl who is under constant pressure to be perfect. She is terrified of making mistakes and changing the way that her family and close friends perceive her. Elizabeth Davis is a rebel--the last thing she ever wants to do is be like everybody else. Through Emily Dickinson and intersecting relationships with other classmates, the girls connect over a shared, secret desire: to be seen for who they really are.
One of these two girls is sending unsigned letters to their teacher, Ms. Diaz; letters that make her believe the sender is suicidal. Based on each girl’s history, the teacher believes that she knows which one of her many students is sending the letters and tries to reach out to her. In this way the suspense of the novel is established and it is dark. The reader is put in the position of trying to figure out which these girls is going to be the one to attempt suicide. Is Ms. Diaz right in her guess? Is the reader? Will the girl succeed? These questions overpower the novel and keep it from becoming a deep exploration of depression in teenagers. The characters and their conflicts are kept on a surface level that keeps the story from being great. Nevertheless the writing is solid and many teenagers will relate to the characters’ intense desire to be truly understood. And an added advantage is that this novel is a solid introduction to the work of Emily Dickinson. ...more
Alys Aronson’s life changed in just a few minutes one day when she was studying in the library and heard gunshots and screams. Hiding under the tableAlys Aronson’s life changed in just a few minutes one day when she was studying in the library and heard gunshots and screams. Hiding under the table with a friend, she is horrified to look up and see her brother Luke with a rifle in his hands. They stare at each other and Luke raises the gun and kills the other girl under the table with her. He then goes to the Biology lab and kills himself. This book tells what happened next: the grief of the family, the funeral, the questions of the police and news people, as well as the reaction from the community. This is a gripping story. With school shootings a fact of recent school life, this story packs a punch to the gut. It is well written and powerful and the characters very believable. It was a book that I couldn’t put down and read from cover to cover in one sitting. Teens who like stories about real problems will pick this up and get something out of it and it would be a good teen book club selection. ...more
Alexis is trying to figure out how to navigate life without her younger brother Tyler. Just two months ago Tyler went into the family garage and killeAlexis is trying to figure out how to navigate life without her younger brother Tyler. Just two months ago Tyler went into the family garage and killed himself. Lexie blames herself for not saving Ty, she is trying to keep her mother from self-destructing, her estranged father forces her to go to weekly dinners, and she has to suffer through meeting with a therapist even though she definitely does not think it is helping. Lexie is angry which is easy to understand. She walks around with a gaping hole in her chest left by the loss of her brother; a hole that constantly threatens to pull her under for good. In an attempt to stop the hurt Lexie pushes everyone away. After her mother confesses that she believes Ty is still around the house, Lexie begins to sense him as well. His smell infiltrates her nose and then every once in a while, she sees him standing and staring at her. With the help of an old friend, Lexie realizes that maybe her brother has unfinished business. She makes it her mission to help him move on.
Hand has crafted a novel that discovers and explains the weight that grief and the loss of a family member can leave on a family. Through both journal entries and regular chapters, Lexie works to sort out how to not only heal herself, but those that are closest to her and her brother. While this may be a novel filled with great sadness, it is also filled with hope too. It is a book that authentically looks into the subject of teen suicide and all of the ramifications that come from it and proves to be very poignant for a world where teen suicide is anything but a made up story. ...more
The night after Sam and his best friend Hayden have a major blowout at a party Sam decides to head over to Hayden’s to apologize. Much to his horror hThe night after Sam and his best friend Hayden have a major blowout at a party Sam decides to head over to Hayden’s to apologize. Much to his horror he discovers Hayden’s dead body and no explanatory suicide note, just a playlist. The playlist is Sam’s only clue to what happened on that fateful night to make Hayden decide he’d had enough. As he searches for answers Hayden is followed by a beautiful girl named Astrid who seems to have known Sam. Which begs the question: what other secrets was Sam keeping? Add to the mix the bully trifecta - Sam’s football playing, perfect, older brother. And someone is exacting revenge leaving Sam to contemplate another mystery, one he might be blamed for.
Initially, the plot of this book is fairly original. Unfortunately the story falls short on a number of levels. Some characters are too obvious in their convenience to move along or tie up the plot such as Sam’s sister’s new boyfriend who also had a close friend commit suicide. And the revenge element to the plot is at best unnecessary and at worst unbelievable. Among the positives, the story shows that it can be difficult to really know someone and that while you might be close with a friend there is frequently a lot more going on below the surface that you know nothing about. But in the end this title ends up being just another suicide book in what appears to be a long list of suicide titles coming out in 2015. ...more
In the summer before her sophomore year, Elise Dembowski has decided to change herself so she will finally be popular; new clothes, new music, and hopIn the summer before her sophomore year, Elise Dembowski has decided to change herself so she will finally be popular; new clothes, new music, and hopefully friends. The problem though is that Elise has always been excruciatingly and wholly unpopular, and she has not a single friend to speak of. However, after an awful first day of school, Elise decides to leave half way through the day and go home and kill herself. After cutting her wrist though, Elise decides has a change or heart and reaches out to get help. Fast forward a six months, and Elise is still basically friendless, but she has started walking the streets of her town in the dead of the night hoping to clear her head. One night she finds herself outside an underground dance club called Start, and after being taken under the wings of two older girls, Elise finds herself in a whole new and amazing world where she soon finds a new passion in DJ-ing. With the help of a handsome DJ named Char, Elise realizes that not only is she great at reading a crowd, but she is also a person worthy of friends and fun. Of course sneaking out in the middle of a school night cannot go on forever, and after more bullying at school Elise has to come clean about her both new passion and her problems. Elise’s story is one that would be great for basically any library setting. It puts the reality of bullying and suicide into words and shows how someone can feel completely stifled and alone, blind to the support around them. This book will appeal to young adults, especially those with a love of music (the author includes a list of songs in the back), as well as anyone that has ever felt out of place in high school. There are scenes of underage drinking as well as some heavy romantic scenes. A great read that will have you looking up songs on iTunes as you turn the pages. ...more
* A package containing cassette tapes with no return address. An empty desk. A teen suicide.
Two rules - Rule No. 1 - you listen. Rule No. 2 - you pas* A package containing cassette tapes with no return address. An empty desk. A teen suicide.
Two rules - Rule No. 1 - you listen. Rule No. 2 - you pass them on to the next person on the list.
We all wonder how we affect other people by our actions and our words. Or do we ever even think about that? Do our actions or words really mean anything to anyone else?
Before committing suicide teen Hanna Baker records her story of how certain people affected her life. "I hope you're ready, because I'm about to tell you the story of my life. More specifically, why my life ended. And if you're listening to these tapes, you're one of the reasons why."
This book is about alienation, how rumors ruin reputations, and trying to fit in. It is well written and even has a website so that you can follow Clay Jenson through town as he listens to the tapes. ...more