Wednesday, August 18, 2010

By The Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads):  Daelyn Rice is broken beyond repair, and after a string of botched suicide attempts, she's determined to get her death right. She starts visiting a website for "completers"-   While she's on the site, Daelyn blogs about her life, uncovering a history of bullying that goes back to kindergarten. When she's not on the Web, Daelyn's at her private school, where she's known as the freak who doesn't talk.  Then, a boy named Santana begins to sit with her after school while she's waiting to for her parents to pick her up. Even though she's made it clear that she wants to be left alone, Santana won't give up. And it's too late for Daelyn to be letting people into her life. Isn't it?

And here's what I thought:  Seems like I'm on a roll lately with suicide books (although I didn't really plan it that way).  In this story, we experience everything through Daelyn, in first person.   It's clear from the beginning that Daelyn has attempted suicide before, and right now, she's wearing a neck brace and everything she eats has to be put through a blender first.  And, she doesn't speak.   So, of course, I was wondering why -- did she try hanging herself?  Or was it something else?   And no, I'm not telling; you discover what she did about 3/4 of the way through the book.

What I found interesting in this story was that even though Daelyn seems set on making a final suicide attempt (a successful one), there's a lot of back-and forth once she meets Santana.  He's determined to become her friend, even though she's at first completely non-responsive to him, and then actually rude to him.  He actually wears her down with his persistence, even though it's really hard for Daelyn to trust anyone.   And there's another girl who seems interested in being her friend, too.   This, of course, makes it difficult for Daelyn to maintain her complete insistence to sticking to her final plan.  She does have an interactive website, Through the Light, to help her keep on track, counting down to her "DOD."  However, she's not the only person posting on the site about experiences with bullying, etc.  I found it interesting that at times, Daelyn was really impatient with some of the people who were posting, and seemed annoyed when people would post responses to what she was writing.   She makes for an interesting character; she seems really self-absorbed, but at the same time, she's an unreliable narrator.  As a reader, we're getting everything from her viewpoint only; what if she's not really being truthful?  Or telling the whole story?  Sometimes, I felt bad for her, and sometimes, I just wanted to shake her!!  By the end of the book, there was a real will-she-or won't-she feel to the story, and I wasn't sure what really happened to her when I finished the book.   I didn't mind that I was left wondering -- I don't always need everything wrapped up nicely at the finish.

This book was a little unsettling, and it's about a serious topic.  There's a discussion guide and resource list at the end that gives a lot of good information about bullying and suicide.  I don't think this is a book for everyone, but I think it would resonate with some readers.  I was glad I read it, although I plan to move on to some happier books for a while!

Where I got this book:  Library!


BookQuoter said...

I am sure there are studies out there that clearly shows a parallel about real life trends and book topics; sadly there seems to be an increase in the suicide rate, hence the increase on this topic with the new books recently published.

Ashley said...

I'm newto your blog, so I don't know if you mentioned this one, but 13 Reasons Why is a great book about teen suicide. One of, if not the favorite that I've read.
I didn't love this one, partially because of that unknown element to the end, because, the way I read it, we DO know what she chose, they just didn't SAY it, and I don't like the way I feel it ended. (Does that even make sense?... Lol)
Great review though!

brandileigh2003 said...

This was a provocative book and I liked it. Santana was a wonderful addition, and i appreciate the ending even if I wish I knew what the outcome was

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