By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead
What parents need to know
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.