A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Program is a dark dystopian romance that presents a disturbing picture of teen suicide gone rampant, with parents unable to reverse a national "behavioral contagion" that claims 1 in 3 young lives. The main character, Sloane, is a 17-year-old girl whose parents have not recovered from the suicide of their son, so they submit her to The Program, a government-sponsored "cure" for the epidemic designed to chemically erase painful memories. Though the love in Sloane's past provides a counterpoint to her grief, the story remains charged with menace and raises the question of how to deal with anguish and loss. Sloane has protected sex with her boyfriend in a relationship swathed in sentiment and romance. The strongest words are various constructions of "s--t."
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Sloane's little brother has succumbed to the suicide epidemic that is gripping the nation. She and her high school boyfriend, James, vow to save each other from The Program, the government's absolutely effective cure, which results in a loss of memory. After both of them get caught in The Program's web, Sloane is challenged to find the love in her life, which exists only in the past.
Is it any good?
THE PROGRAM delivers on a haunting premise: Parents might be driven to betray their own children to a program of brainwashing to save them from an epidemic of suicide. Kids who return from The Program, their painful memories chemically deleted, behave like happy zombies. Here the story doesn't quite hold together -- you'd think their friends who hadn't been brainwashed would quickly fill them in on the past -- but its power derives from the fact that love and sadness can be terribly intertwined. Sloane, whose little brother commits suicide, misses him so much that following him in death seems less painful than going on, despite her love for her boyfriend, James. Sloane realizes that even if her parents did send her to The Program, living with pain is ultimately her responsibility.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why dystopian novels are so popular. What's compelling about stories featuring controlling governments?
In a world where 1 in 3 teens is at high risk of suicide, would authorities be justified in treating young people against their will?
The book describes "behavioral contagion." Is that just a stronger term for peer pressure? Can peer pressure be a good thing?
- Author: Suzanne Young
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, High School, Misfits and Underdogs, Science and Nature
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Simon Pulse
- Publication date: April 30, 2013
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
- Number of pages: 416
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, Kindle
- Last updated: April 1, 2020
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