Kat's Reviews > By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead

By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters
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's review
Oct 30, 2010

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bookshelves: death, ya-fiction
Read on October 30, 2010

** spoiler alert ** Daelyn has already tried to kill herself multiple times with unsuccessful attempts, but this time she's determined. She's just found a suicide website where users follow a 23-day plan to choose their method, wrap up their loose ends, and vent online with other users about the troubles that have led them there, and she intends to do it.

Daelyn wears a neck-brace and cannot speak anymore (we eventually find out why), but her internal monologue screams loud and clear. Through Daelyn's interactions with her fussy parents and her postings on Through-the-Light, we get the pieces of the tragic story of a girl that has been severely tormented all her life to the point of complete breakdown. As the fat and maladjusted kid in the class throughout childhood, she was bullied, beaten, tortured, even sexually assaulted, with not a single friend to turn to or even just someone to shed pity on her. Her parents appear to have good intentions but are seemingly in denial about the severity of the bullying and the suicide attempts, so needless to say, they have not been able to get through to her.

But just as Daelyn is closing in on her last days, Santana breaks into her life. He's a goofy home-schooled guy with dyed hair that lives next-door to her school, and he begins to sit with her on the bench after school, slowly trying to work his way through to her. She puts up a tough barrier, but we slowly see him begin to reach her, especially when she finds out that he has some heavy secrets of his own to share. Will he be enough to convince her to stay?

Daelyn's self-hatred and lament is so intense, and all she can think about is how she wants to die. Any teen that has suffered with some form of depression should be able to relate, but the complete and utter lack of hope is emotionally draining. It's so disturbing to get inside the head of someone who truly believes that everything and everyone in life has failed them, and she simply does not possess the strength or will to fight. I guess I have to commend the author for pulling the reader into this girl's shoes, but it's no easy path. And in the end, there's no cheery ending with rainbows and puppies and the newly-discovered will to live...We are left to our own assumptions about her fate. I think teens will appreciate the realism, but I'm not sure how beneficial this would be to a teen that's severely depressed and/or suicidal, aside from simple solace that there are others out there that feel the same way. Unfortunately, it might also give them some fresh ideas about how to carry out the deed, since there are quite a few in there...
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