Tag Archives: Teen Suicide

Book Reviews
April 13, 2014 posted by Nichole

The Program by Suzanne Young

11366397In Sloane’s world, true feelings are forbidden, teen suicide is an epidemic, and the only solution is The Program.

Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.

Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them.


My Review:

I just finished my reading The Program by Suzanne Young and I’m currently sitting here at my computer, typing random words on the screen so that I have more time to come up with a coherent thought process. Reflecting on this book is not an easy task. You see, my thoughts are jumbled. I feel some happiness, but mostly I feel sad and pissed off over what transpired throughout this book. I want to retaliate and throw the book at the wall until it creates the story that I want to read about. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen, so let me start at the beginning.

The Program is grouped into three very different sections. The first section starts out by introducing Sloane and James, two very much in love teenagers who live in a world where teenage suicide is an epidemic and “The Program” is there to brainwash them into being perfect citizens. Of course, that brainwashing also includes wiping their memories of everyone they used to know. This first section I loved the most. Most importantly, I loved James, who I was looking forward to reading about throughout the rest of the book. James had all the qualities that I look for in all my future book boyfriends: hotness, sarcasm, loyalty and passion. Not only that, but he and Sloane were the perfect couple that everyone dreams about. It was during this first section of the book that I began to prepare myself for an amazing book; a book that could have potentially been transformed into an epic movie.

It was during the second section of the book that I started to get pissed off. The book started to take a completely different approach than I anticipated, and I was not thrilled with this new development. Also, I just couldn’t seem to handle some of the rotten things that were transpiring. I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll say this much: teens are starting to be force fed pills, brainwashed, and abused; beloved characters are being pushed aside and warped; and the book takes a totally different turn than what truly should have happened. I was upset by this new twist to a book that I should have loved.

The third section of the book is where I started to develop mixed feelings. I was still pissed off, you see, because there was still a lot of horrible things happening to the teens and main characters. However, I was happy to see the main characters fighting these abuses and taking a stand. The ending of the book made me a little more excited for the next book, but after the unexpected and unwelcome twists and turns that this book had to offer, I just don’t know if I want to risk it in the next one. I have a very specific layout that I want to see happen in the next book. I’m going to be even more pissed off if that doesn’t happen.

I’m not going to rate this book because I don’t even know how to do begin to do that. I loved the first section of the book and the main characters. However,  I hated some of the content that this book had to offer. I even had a stress headache throughout two thirds of the book. I enjoy feeling some intense emotions during dystopia books but this was just a little too much for my taste. I think that I’m more annoyed because this could have been a fantastic book! I expected Sloane and James to infiltrate into the Program and do something drastic. That didn’t happen, and I was very upset with the results.

I guess that I’m just a little disappointed with how things worked out. I understood the message that the book offered. I also understand why others will love this book. Maybe I’ll save my judgments for the next book cause I just really don’t know how to rate this one.

Pages: 405

Publication Date: April 30th, 2013

Publisher:  Simon Pulse

Rating: N/A

Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher
Book Reviews
January 3, 2009 posted by Nikki

Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher

I am speechless. Numb.

I just finished reading Jay Asher’s debut novel, Thirteen Reasons Why, and although my brain is buzzing, I can’t seem to find my words. So I’m going to ramble of a bunch of statistics, which hopefully, will highlight the gravity of the issue Asher deals with in his novel.

Did you know:

Approximately 8 in every 100 000 people aged between 15 and 24 in the United States commit suicide every year.

Among 15-19 year old Australians, suicide accounted for a total of 85 registered deaths in 2004, at a rate of 6.2 per 100,000 people (7.5 for males, 4.8 for females). Suicide accounted for 15.2% of total male deaths and 17.1% of total female deaths registered in this age group (source: Suicides, Australia, 1994 to 2004. ABS, 2006).

Teen suicide is often attributed to drug and alcohol abuse, poor family situations, extreme trouble at school, mental illness. Sometimes, pinpointing a reason why someone kills themselves is impossible and friends and family of the deceased live out the rest of their days wondering why, what – if anything – they could have done to help.

In Thirteen Reasons Why, readers are given a detailed blow-by-blow account of Hanna Baker’s journey towards death. Before she dies, she records her story on a set of audio tapes. She devises a plan to make sure that everyone featured on the tapes receives them, and listens to every single word she says.

When Clay receives the tapes, he doesn’t know what they are at first. But after listening for only a couple of moments, the realisation that he is in possession of Hanna Bakers last words, and that he is somehow part of her downward spiral is a sobering thought indeed. Clay listens, not just because he wants to learn about his role, but because it was Hanna’s last dying wish that everyone that receives the tapes, listens to them in full.

Clay always had a thing for Hanna Baker, but they’d only made out once, so what could he possibly have done to contribute to her decision to kill herself? As Clay is listening, often with tears streaming down his face, he realises that his failure was unavoidable. Sure, he could have tried harder to get through to Hanna in her time of need, but she pushed him away – and how can you help someone that doesn’t want to be helped?

Some of the events that unfold in Hanna’s tale are really quite horrific, and I found myself questioning the very essence of human nature over and over. How could these kids do these kinds of things to each other? Can’t they see that their actions, their words, all come with consequences? Or maybe they do know, but just don’t care? Reading Thirteen Reasons Why made me realise that I’m either a very naïve person, or I’ve lead a very sheltered life (quite possibly a combination of both). Teenagers can be the cruellest creatures on Earth.

Foresight is not a characteristic commonly employed by the characters in this novel. From the those that contributed to her demise, right through to Hanna actually committing suicide, no one looked past the now. Would Bryce have done the things he did if he knew it would lead to Hanna ultimately deciding that she couldn’t live with herself anymore? Maybe Clay would have stayed in the room longer, maybe Justin wouldn’t have started that rumor. Maybe. But maybe not, too.

Hanna herself was guilty of lacking foresight. She couldn’t see past her immediate problems, couldn’t see that her life wasn’t necessarily always going to be at the whim of the idiots she went to school with. But I argue that she couldn’t see these things because she didn’t try. She didn’t want to see a life beyond what she knew. The question then stands, then, if the combination of events Hanna blames as the source of her desire to die, hadn’t happened, would she have found other reasons to justify her death? Was it set in her brain, programmed from birth? It’s a difficult question to answer and one that often gets asked in the wake of a successful suicide attempt.

Teen Suicide is not an issue to be taken lightly, so I was happy to see Jay Asher dealing with Hanna’s death in a responsible, accurate manner. Thirteen Reasons Why is written in simple, straight-forward language. As this is Asher’s debut novel, it’s hard to tell whether such a technique was intentional or is just the product of his natural writing style. But it works, very well. Hanna’s story is profound enough that it does not need the help of colourful language to get the message across. Asher captures the essence of the teenage mind brilliantly, providing a captivating, raw tale with lessons about humankind for all.

Rating: : ★★★★½