By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead



Realistic portrayal of a teen committed to killing herself.
Popular with kids

What parents need to know

Educational value

This book could be a great entry point for parents to talk to their teens about cyberbullying. Check out our discussion topics for ideas.

Positive messages

Whether this book makes the idea of suicide more or less appealing is hard to say and will probably depend on the reader, but the frank discussion of methods gives it a negative voyeuristic feel.

Positive role models

Daelyn is a character that teens will empathize with, but parents certainly wouldn't want them to emulate her suicidal behavior. Many other kids and adults treat her badly, but they are not shown in a positive light.


Daelyn is sexually attacked by boys in a boys' bathroom. She is also verbally and physically humiliated at an abusive "fat camp." She is considering suicide, and the book includes frank discussions of different methods, including their pain and effectiveness ratings. A previous suicide attempt left her having to wear a neck brace and unable to talk. Other participants on the suicide website she uses talk about being raped and molested.


Towards the end of the book, Santana kisses Daelyn, which causes her to have a violent reaction.


Daelyn is the victim of lots of hostile language (kids call her "freak," "plumpkin," etc.) Also, some words like "ass," "whore," "s--t," etc.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is an intense book that centers on a teen who is about to kill herself. This book includes frank discussions of different methods, including their pain and effectiveness ratings. There is plenty of other intense material as well:  In elementary school, Daelyn is sexually attacked by boys in a boys' bathroom. She is also verbally and physically humiliated at an abusive "fat camp." A previous suicide attempt left her having to wear a neck brace and unable to talk. She spends a lot of time on a website that helps users make plans for their own suicides. Other participants on the website talk about being raped and molested. The language, like the topics, can be rough. While there's plenty to frighten parents away from this book, as a small positive note it could be an entry point to talk to teens about cyberbullying.

What's the story?

When depressed Daelyn stumbles upon a mysterious website called \"Through-the-Light,\" she is given 23 days to decide if she really wants to kill herself. The site asks her questions that help her reflect on her decision (For example, \"Who will help you through the darkness?\"). The site also provides her a community where she can vent t her problems (and read what other suicidal users have to say). But as she is preparing herself to leave this world, she makes a surprising connection with an offbeat boy with a secret of his own. Suddenly, she has to rethink everything.

Is it any good?


Daelyn is a realistic character whom readers will empathize with. The author makes her tragic story come to life, even when using devices that could easily fall flat (like chat board discussions). Her relationship with Santana seems a little too well timed. But, ultimately, this book will certainly give readers a lot to contemplate, especially its open-ended conclusion.

This author is known for teen books that push the envelope on edgy subject matter. Of course, sadly, it could certainly resonate with some teens for the wrong reasons.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the website Daelyn visits. It tells users "self-termination is your right." Do you agree or disagree with this attitude? Should websites that support dangerous behaviors -- like suicide, anorexia, or cutting -- be allowed to operate?

  • Dealyn is a target of cyberbullying, something that happens to 43 percent of kids. Ask your teens if they've ever gotten -- or sent -- a hurtful message online.  What happened? You may want to review Common Sense Media's article about protecting kids from cyberbullying.

Book details

Author:Julie Anne Peters
Genre:Coming of Age
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Hyperion Books for Children
Publication date:January 5, 2010
Number of pages:224
Publisher's recommended age(s):14 - 17
Read aloud:14
Read alone:14

This review of By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead was written by

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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 15 years old Written bygarnesab April 16, 2011
i loved this book i liked the fact that they just leave to think what you want at the end.
Kid, 12 years old May 10, 2011


I loved it n im onlyy 12! I read it for my book reportr n yeahh it was greaTT!!!
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 17 years old Written bystarinatstars03 February 26, 2010


The main character wants to kill herself. Guess what parents, most teens DO think about suicide. Give them this book. Let them read it. Let them be horrified by it. Let them learn that it's not an answer. And let it teach them what cruelty can push kids toward.


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