Book Title/Author: By The Time You Read This I’ll Be Dead by Julie Ann Peters
Publisher/Year: Hyperion 2010
Genre: YA Contemporary
Topics: Bullying, Suicide
Other Books From Author: She Loves You, She Loves You Not.., Between Mom & Jo, Rage: A Love Story, Luna, Keeping You A Secret & more.
Daelyn is ready to end it all. She’s tried to commit suicide before and she’s failed which has only made things worse for her — everyone thinks she’s a freak and her parents won’t let her out of their sight. This time she’s found a website that will help her in her efforts but only if she’s serious. She’s also found herself spending a lot of time in the forums on this website where she reads about other people’s experiences and why they want to commit suicide and posts her own thoughts. She’s happy when nobody talks to her and doesn’t have to interact with people so when a boy named Santana starts hanging around her after school it gets under her skin and throws her for a loop since she wasn’t expecting on making any friends knowing that she plans on killing herself.
This book pretty much threw it’s metaphorical hand out of the book and ripped through my body and just squeezed the hell out of my heart. Oh man. It was really heavy and made me so incredibly sad for anybody — especially the young people — who are contemplating suicide or who have endured horrible bullying or just any sort of horrible thing that they’ve kept to themselves that’s made them want to end their life. I seriously can’t even explain how hard my heart ached for Daelyn and people in situations like her.
The way Julie Ann Peters unravels Daelyn’s history of being bullied was just completely effective. When my heart didn’t think it could break any more from hearing how she was bullied, it would start to break even more with the stories she’d reveal — the fat camp, how nobody would listen to her, the bathroom scene at school. I could honestly see why things were so hard for her. It was so painful to read it and to think that this kind of stuff happens in real life. I think Julie Ann Peters gave such an authentic look into the mind of a girl who just grew weary of being bullied, of having nobody listen to her and of trying to make it through every day. She was drained. I quite enjoyed Daelyn’s voice — she was kind of snarky and called it like it was. Obviously I’d wish anyone to choose to live but I found myself really rooting hard for her to find her way through it. I connected with her in the moments when she allowed us to see HER; not the Daelyn who has given up.
Each chapter is a countdown and gives the number of days she has left — a number generated by the website. As every day got closer and closer to the day she was supposed to complete I was reading even more anxiously to find out if she was going to actually go through with it or if she would find some glimmer of hope that would make her change her mind — maybe Santana and his story would, his friendship, or when the music teacher sticks up for her in a way. So many things made me think that maybe she’d find what little bit of hope and strength she could from the good. I loved when Santana enters the picture and I’m happy that the author didn’t go in the direction I thought it could go in terms of a romance suddenly make everything better. Santana was so full of life despite the heavy stuff he was facing and was so determined to live which was a real contrast to Daelyn and how numb she was.
The ending totally wasn’t what I was expecting. I don’t want to give it away. I still don’t know how I feel about it but I think it was actually kind of perfect in a way and not necessarily in a pretty little bow.
By The Time You Read This I’ll Be Dead is a heavy, heavy book dealing with bullying and suicide in a really powerful way. It weighed heavy on my heart for a while. I felt like it was such a raw and honest portrayal of a subject that is so delicate yet so prevalent in our society. I’ve read books dealing with these subjects before and sometimes they feel really contrived or less than authentic. This just felt really superior to a lot of them in authenticity and emotion as it never felt contrived nor was Daelyn made to be this poor, poor pitiful me character. Daelyn’s voice is just unshakeable and Santana is unforgettable. I was pleasantly surprised by this one. Hard to say that I LIKED it because of the nature of the topic but I was really moved by it and it caused me to think.
Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? What did you think if you have read it? What other books have you read that deal with bullying & suicide? If you did read it what were your thoughts on that ending?