review: “by the time you read this, i’ll be dead” March 26, 2010Posted by Katie in reviews.
Tags: realistic fiction, social issues
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.