Young Adult Contemp
Simon Pulse, 2010
Suicide is something quite personal for me, having been a suicidal teen once myself and now married to someone who deals with regular bouts of suicidal depression (he has bipolar disorder), so I was a little leery to read this book. Not because I thought it would rouse up those feelings inside me again, but because I was afraid that it wouldn't do them justice.
I've read about suicide in fiction before, and it always goes one of two ways. 1) The author portrays it so well that it makes you sick. 2) The author portrays it so poorly that it makes you angry.
I'd prefer the first one. When feelings of suicide are presented realistically, not sugar-coated or preachy or just plain wrong, it makes for an engaging read. The problem is, it also makes your stomach churn because you know it's real. There are really people out there who feel this way and believe they would be better off dead and/or the world would be better off without them in it.
This story is so real in its portrayal that it did, indeed, make me sick to my stomach at times. But that is the very reason why I'm recommending it, especially for teens. What I loved the most about this story was that it explored more than one aspect of what it's like to be suicidal. Not all suicidal teens are the same. Not all become suicidal for the same reasons. Some want attention. Some want to disappear. Some can't deal with life. Some can't deal with death.
And that's why this story is genius. Because it follows not just one but FOUR teens on a "celebrity suicide road trip", in which they have all agreed that at the end of the trip they will off themselves in Death Valley, California. It also flips back to their online chats that led to them deciding to do this in the first place, intertwining both stories until they finally mesh. The tension is always high. The feelings are always raw. And by the time you get to the end, you've become so attached to these people that you're trying to physically reach your hand through the pages and pull them out of the story so you can save them.
Favorite quote (p. 145):
"No one stays suicidal forever. You either die or you get over it."
Cover Art: 3 stars
Title: 3 stars
Writing: 4 stars
Story: 5 stars
Characters: 5 stars
Ending: 5 stars
Overall Rating: 4 stars