By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peter (NY: Hyperion, 2010).
Daelyn Rice is known as a freak at her latest school, a private girls' academy. She can't talk and she wears a neck brace--she's recovering from reconstructive surgery on her esophagus that she damaged in her latest in a string of botched suicides. Now she's determined to succeed and, with the help of a countdown website for "completers" called through-the-light.com, organizes for her final suicide attempt. She answers questions, selects her method, and even journals about the bullying and abuse she's endured her entire school career that have contributed to her death wish. Her parents blithely believe that monitoring her web access will stop her from visiting suicide boards, but Daelyn enlists the aid of a boy who happens to live next to her school and who persistently sits with her while she waits for her ride after school every day. He loans her a netbook and also becomes something to her, a friend? Daelyn doesn't really know since her life has been devoid of friendship. She's likewise unsure about the one girl among the usual crowd of mean ones at the school who is actually nice to Daelyn.
None of these topics is particularly new, but Peters's matter-of-fact presentation cuts deeply. Daelyn isn't crying for help, yet she elicits sympathy, even as she dispassionately evaluates various suicide methods. Her parents' apparent blindness to their daughter's suffering seems oddly believable. Although the book ends on Daelyn's last day, her ultimate end is left unstated, a fitting conclusion to this sad, sad story.
Recommended for teens, ages 14 & up. Intense situations & disturbing content.
#MiddleGradeMay: Ghost Boys - You guys. This book. My heart. I just... This is one not to miss if you've got kids asking questions about social justice or things they've heard (or seen ...
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