Release Date: February 10, 2015
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Keywords: depression, friendship, suicide
Format Read: ARC via publisher (thank you!)
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WHY I LIKED ITHometown shout-out for being set in Kentucky and close enough to Louisville that it makes a cameo! I often don't find books in the area, especially these types of books, that bring up serious issues for people living in this sort of lifestyle. Even though it's a small reason, I feel like I connected with this book immediately because I could picture the houses, the landscape, the drives, the characters, and the lifestyle because it's one I grew up in and will always remember well.
What really stood out was the perspective this book took on the topic. There was no leading up to the decision, there was no plummeting into depression: The characters were already there and already decided they were going to do this. The story was about the courage they were trying to muster up to actually kill themselves, which was heartbreaking to watch. We were introduced to their families, which made me feel so emotionally attached to these kids, and I wanted to join in on their family game nights and dinners. This was just so different than other books on this topic because it was taking place after the decision had been made, and the characters were just waiting until the correct day to do it.
I also loved it because it (subtly) brought up the importance of not treating people like shit in high school. The MC's father was in jail, and the entire school treated her like a pariah. She was pretty good at staying distant, too, but it all began with people being rude and horrible to her, so she rightly distanced herself as much as she could. It's so important to realize everyone has different experiences and that you never know what someone else could be going through or dealing with, and this book did a wonderful job of bringing that up without throwing it in your face to be an obvious theme or message.
RESERVATIONS?There was a small moment when there was a physics photography assignment that had Aysel working with another student from her class, and even though he was a popular jock, he seemed nice and ready to work with her. I wanted to see a few more moments like this were she had interactions with students that led to her not totally hating the school. It seemed like they were pretty willing to come around and talk to her once she opened up a little in class, and I just wanted to see that actual development a bit more.
SHOCK VALUEI honestly didn't know whether or not they would go through with it, and I was genuinely nervous the closer the dates got to April. I didn't want the days to tick down because I truly didn't know how it was going to end or what kind of decisions they were going to make. Even though it's made technically at the very beginning of the book, there is still so much that happens leading up to it that made me feel for them.
FINAL THOUGHTSThis is a poignant, real story of two regular kids just trying to live, and they lean on one another and learn to lean on others for support, and I think Warga did an amazing job of telling their stories.