A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The novel offers a powerful message about the life-changing (and even deadly) price teens will pay if they become involved with selling drugs.
It's never too late to reconnect with old friends and rebuild those relationships.
Positive Role Models
Of the three friends, Mateo stands out as a role model. He admits that "former Mateo did jack "s--t," but he's now trying his best to step up and help keep the family financially afloat by working two jobs.
While Cal is the only kid in school with two fathers, this isn't the reason he feels like an outsider. Mateo's mother is Puerto Rican and his father is Polish. Ivy remembers that when the three of them would go to the mall in middle school, Mateo was the only one who would be followed by security and once had his backpack searched. Ivy's best friend, Emily Zhang, and high school podcaster, Ishaan Mittal, are important supporting characters, but their ethnicities don't play a part in the story.
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Violence & Scariness
A teen is found murdered. There's a long scene that describes characters being taken hostage and held at gunpoint and a fight where one person is attacked with a crowbar.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Cal and Lara, his art teacher, have what seems to be a highly inappropriate relationship -- exchanging text messages and seeing each other outside of school -- and it's obvious to Ivy and Mateo that Cal has begun to think of Lara as a possible girlfriend. That storyline is resolved in an appropriate way, and Cal realizes he's been a "lovesick teenager" and Lara had been "a caring but ultimately boundary-respecting adult."
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Teens regularly use profanity: "f--k," "s--t," "bulls--t," "a--hole," "crap," "bitch," "Jesus."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Drug dealing by Ivy, Mateo, and Cal's fellow students is a major storyline. Teens drink hard liquor and beer at a party. Ivy mentions that after she and her brother turned 16, her parents let them "sample" whatever they were drinking, thinking this might keep them from underage drinking with their friends. In the case of Ivy and her brother, this did work.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Karen M. McManus' You'll Be the Death of Me is a thriller told in the voices of three teens who were once best friends. In middle school, Ivy Sterling-Shepard, Mateo Wojcik, and Cal O'Shea-Wallace shared the "Greatest Day Ever," when they played hookey for the day. Now seniors at a high school outside of Boston, they'd gone their separate ways and left those friendships behind. A chance meeting brings back memories of that best ever day and they decide another great day adventure is just what they need to lift their spirits. Ivy's just lost the election for senior class president to a kid who ran as a joke, Mateo needs a break from working two jobs to help out his single mom, and Cal's just been stood up ... again. But what was supposed to be a fun morning in Boston soon turns deadly when they find the body of the boy who defeated Ivy, she becomes a suspect in his murder, and they discover a drug ring operating out of their high school. Characters are taken hostage and held at gunpoint and someone is attacked with a crowbar. Teens regularly use profanity: "f--k," "s--t," "bulls--t," "a--hole."
Is It Any Good?
This fast paced thriller offers up a now familiar McManus mix of murder, multiple voices, complex family relationships, misunderstandings, and lots of secrets. Readers will have to pay close attention in the last quarter of You'll Be the Death of Me, as the story changes from a lively easy to follow plot to a sometimes confusing storyline with head spinning twists and turns.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.