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review: “by the time you read this, i’ll be dead” March 26, 2010

Posted by Katie in reviews.
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By the Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters.
Hyperion // Hardcover // 224 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Daelyn Rice has tried to commit suicide multiple times. The latest attempt has left her unable to eat solid food and to talk without pain. And Daelyn still wants to die — so she finds an online community to support her during her next attempt; the attempt that Daelyn wants to be her final success. But as much as Daelyn wants to die, others want her to live and they’re reaching out to her, trying to keep her alive.

It’s hard to review this book for me. I thought it was amazingly well-written, but the whole time I wanted to shake Daelyn and remind her that people cared about her. I was so utterly frustrated with her character and the seemingly unending hopelessness that she had — I really struggled to finish the book.

There are also pretty detailed descriptions on the methods that people chose to commit suicide, something that I almost wasn’t comfortable with in a YA book. And I have to say that I’m pretty open-minded when it comes to difficult subjects in YA literature. But when the descriptions were making my stomach turn? It was too harsh for me, and too harsh for a lot of the teens I know.

Daelyn does has reason for being truly unhappy — she’s been bullied her whole life for her weight. I don’t want to say it justified her depression and suicide attempts, but I felt like she had been truly abused.

[Spoilers for the end, run away if you don’t want to know!]

And the most frustrating part about the novel was that the ending was open — we don’t know what Daelyn did; if she did attempt suicide, if she was successful; or if the few people in her life were enough to convince her otherwise.

A hard-hitting well-written YA novel. I had trouble moving past the subject matter. And I think librarians should be careful to recommend it to teens who can handle the material.

SWAN catalog
Julie Anne Peters




1. Sarah - March 27, 2010

I haven’t read this one, but one of my teens read it and loved it. But she too was frustrate by the open ending. I saw somewhere that when there’s an open ending typically children and teens think of the happy ending, where most adults think the worst. Some people were talking about that on YALSA awhile back and were mentioning The Giver and Living Dead Girl as examples-it’s interesting to see what various readers thought.

2. Lauren (I Was A Teenage Book Geek) - March 28, 2010

Great review, and to be honest I probably shouldn’t have read the spoiler, but that’s the one thing that really puts me off reading this one. I read a story to find out what happens! I’m sure leaving it open gives the reader food for thought and room to interpret and all, but I prefer… an ending. I don’t think I could handle reading this one and then end up not knowing what happened.

3. April - June 24, 2010

I just finished this, after spending 2 straight hours reading it. And I could only sit there at the last page and just cry. I’ve been teased, but never bullied. My sister was, though, and I can only thank God that she never resorted to anything like this.

It reminds me that as a YA Librarian, it is my job to look out for problems, for bullies, to keep an eye on the weak. I know that is “easier said than done” and that many YAs don’t want adults in their business. But books like this, and like Chris Crutcher’s Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes reminds me that we can help. Even if we don’t know we are helping.

4. Suad Abdeljaber - August 22, 2010

I loved this book but the ending just fucks my mind up. I want to know what happens. Did she kill herself or did she not? It bugs me. So bad.

bella senecal - October 4, 2010

I know I wanted to know the ending to i was like wat the heck? Why didnt it tell me if she died or not? I was like comeon!

Janet Ramos - February 24, 2011

I felt the same way -_-

laura - March 8, 2011

i know im sooo mad !

5. Janet Ramos - February 24, 2011

I just finished reading this book & I must say it was very well written, I enjoyed it to the very last page. I couldn’t put it down , finished it in less then a day. but just like you guys the ending left me confused & it bugs me so bad ! I turned the page hoping it continued … it bugs me not to know what really happend -_-

6. laura - March 8, 2011

im so confused did shes die??? the ending sucksss …

7. Lydia - May 12, 2011

Idea: Everyone find the author’s email address and send an email once in a while, begging for a sequel…..If you don’t have an email or don’t want to clog up her inbox send letters!! Personally, I’m going to do both. I don’t want a sequel, I NEED ONE.

8. angeli98 - July 12, 2011

Ugh I just finished reading and have been hunting for anyone who know what happened at the end. It was at least for me a very irritating ending as because it sounds like she will go with her suicide plan but then I just feel something in me that says she didn’t go with her plan because she realizes she has people who care and she’s stronger now. But then my thought get thrown off when it says it’s tine for me to head into the light. It just makes me have a split ending in my head because or me she could be talking about going in to the light like death or into the light like a brand new life because of what she says on the last few pages about a clean slate and she was talking about what she will become and she deleted her account which could mean that she turned her back to suicide. Oh my goodness this is bugging me!!! >_<
P.S. sorry for the long comment 🙂

9. W.K. - September 8, 2012

Glad I’m not the only one frustrated by that ending! But good book overall

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