Two book reviews in one week! Wow, I must be on a roll. I admit this one took me a while to get through, not because it is a long book, but because it is such a serious book, and something that made me think.
By The Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Daelyn has been the victim of bullies all her life, and now, for the third time she seeks to end it once and for all. To end her pain and suffering, Daelyn has tried to commit suicide at least twice, but now with the help of a website, Through-the-Light, she hopes that she will finally be able to succeed. After her last attempt left her with no voice and in a neck brace, Daelyn is trapped in her own world of silence, while she attempts to withdraw from both her parents and her life. Although her parents and psychologist try to reach her, Daelyn is emotially distant from everyone around her until a young man, name Santana attempts to reach out to her. Will he be able to bring her back, or is it already too late for Daelyn?
I am not sure what I want to say about this book. Daelyn recounts the experiences she faced as an overweight child, and how she was bullied in several different environments. She never stood up for herself, or had anyone stand up for her. Even her parents were blind to see her pain. Yet I had difficulty seeing her as a truly suicidal teen. I think this may come from the fact that Daelyn is emotionally closed throughout the book. She is emotionally closed to the other characters of the book as well as to the reader. So you don’t feel the reasons behind the suicide attempts.
Although the story is a first person narrative, the author tells you what happened to her more than shows you, so there is a serious emotional disconnect that leaves you unsympathetic to the narrator, which can be a fatal flaw in a novel such as this. I believe the reader would have been more sympathetic to Daelyn’s plight if they could have felt or better understood pain. In a sense the emotional disconnect of the character was a double edged sword, it worked both for and against the author’s intent in this book. While it made it difficult for readers to understand Daelyn’s motives, it did allow us to see when she finally experiences the chink in her armor with Santana.
While I feel the book could have been better written, I believe that the book is timely and is something that needs to be discussed with teens. All over the news you hear about teen bullying and even suicides as the result. It is an important topic that needs to be discussed.
Sure there are mistakes that Daelyn made, she didn’t speak up for herself or point out her bullies, but there were mistakes made by her parents, the schools, the therapist, and of course the bullies. It seemed like everyone had their eyes closed to what was happening to Daelyn and no one ever asked her to explain to them what the issues were until it was too late. Now she feels like nothing they do will change her mind, and she doesn’t even want to reach out to them.
It is important to discuss bullying. It is happening and a new kind of bullying has emerged cyberbullying. Perhaps more book like this and Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why are needed to bring this issue of bullying into the light where we can actually talk about it.
At the end of the book, you will find discussion questions and more information on suicide and bullying. It also includes a list of suicide warning signs. The end matter is essential and a good resource for those looking for more information. For more books on this topic, readers might read Jay Asher’s novel Thirteen Reasons Why or you might try the nonfiction book Letters to a Bullied Girl: Messages of Healing and Hope by Olivia Gardner where two teens decided to help a bullied girl by sending her letters of hope.
Cautions for sensitive readers: This is a very delicate and sensitive topic, but made more so by the fact that the website listed in the book give methods of suicide that the sensitive reader may find disturbing. This is definitely a good book to sit down and discuss after reading.
ARC courtesy of Ingram Library Services.
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Now for the GIVEAWAY!!!
I am giving away an ARC (Advanced Reading Copy/Uncorrected Proof) of the book By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters. To win this book, you must have a Kokomo-Howard County Public Library card. To enter the contest, you may respond in the comments or email me at email@example.com with the name your library card is under, your email address, and the branch where you would like to pick up the book. Winner will be chosen at random.