Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You deals with the aftermath of a teen who commits suicide by overdosing on pills and alcohol. Several other teen characters consider killing themselves, and there are graphic depictions of self-mutilation. One character is called a slut and bullied by boys both at school and online. Two teens are slapped by their parents. A boy takes sexual advantage of a drunk girl. There's some strong language, such as "bitch" and "c--k." But the protagonists -- including the spirit of a dead friend who helps the book's two main girls grow up and face the problems in their lives -- do support one another through difficult times.
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What's the Story?
Told in three parts, TWO OR THREE THINGS I FORGOT TO TELL YOU shows the impact of an enigmatic teen girl's friendship -- and suicide -- on a group of other girls, particularly two high school seniors. In the first part -- told after Tink's suicide -- Merissa is a seemingly perfect overachiever with a dangerous secret: She enjoys cutting herself, even contemplating suicide after her family starts falling apart. The second part focuses on Tink herself, a former child actress who transferred into Merissa's elite private school and shook things up with her unapologetic attitude. Always unpredictable -- this is a girl who said \"I'd like to be your friend, but only if you promise not to ever, ever count on me\" -- her friends are hurt when she says goodbye to them forever through an impersonal text message. The final part is about Nadia, who deals with cruel bullying and a crush on a teacher that spins dangerously out of control. Tink taught these girls a lot while she was alive, and she continues to be there for them after her death, encouraging her friends to be brave enough to grow up and face up to life's hardships.
Is It Any Good?
Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You is targeted at sophisticated readers, as it will take some effort to follow the nonlinear plotting. Readers will also have to accept Tink's presence as a spirit who looks after her former friends. Those willing to do the work will be rewarded with fully developed characters dealing with authentic and uncomfortable emotions, from Merissa's disgust at her mother's weakness when she's left by her husband to Nadia's reluctance to confront the boys who harass her.
Motivated parents who read along will find themselves educated about hot-button issues, such as cutting and cyberbulling, that could help them do some valuable check-ins with their teens.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about cutting. Teens: Are you aware of kids at your school doing it? Does this book help you understand why some kids do it?
Do you think writing about difficult topics like cutting and suicide glamorizes dangerous behavior or helps raise awareness about issues that are hard to talk about?
Do you think Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You deals realistically with teen suicide?
- Author: Joyce Carol Oates
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Friendship, High School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HarperTeen
- Publication date: August 21, 2012
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 17
- Number of pages: 288
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: July 12, 2017
Our Editors Recommend
Thirteen Reasons Why
Disturbing suicide novel examines bullying, indifference.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Controversial coming-of-age classic with sex, drugs, abuse.
By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead
Realistic portrayal of a teen committed to killing herself.
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