Dotson: Author tackles hard subject with book, but message is worth it
June 23, 2010
I met the author of "By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead," Julie Anne Peters, last year at a book expo in Denver.
We chatted about the book's subject matter — suicide and how the "bullying" often pushes young adults to their end. This book has created a bit of controversy.
Peters is cautious in telling her story of Daelyn, a girl who has been attempting suicide since she was 10, because she doesn't want to sensationalize suicide. She wants young adults to realize, through this book, that suicide is selfish.
As the story unfolds, the reader learns that Daelyn has been bullied because of her weight, she has been sexually assaulted and that she currently can't speak due to her previous attempt.
All of this causes Daelyn to resort to an introverted lifestyle, which makes her an outcast at her private school.
Each chapter is part of the remaining days Daelyn has before attempting suicide again. Daelyn uses a "self-help" suicide website to purge all the childhood memories that lead her to the desperate option of wanting to die.
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While planning her end, Daelyn meets Santana, a boy who unexpectedly befriends her. Daelyn resists all feelings for Santana, but he is charming and persistent.
Even with a new friendship, Daelyn finds a way to continue mapping out her planned suicide. She wants to be one of the "completers" on the website, and can't wait for the pain to end.
It is easy to understand why "By The Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead" is about such a controversial subject.
Society wants its contenders to "think happy and stay positive," eliminating the negative. But the negative is real. Life hurts when a young adult is maturing.
This book approaches the topic in a delicate, but "in-your-face" way.
This topic is necessary in conjunction with today's youth. Suicide is the third-leading cause of death among young adults age 15 to 24.
With books like this one, and others by author Ellen Hopkins, people of all ages can better understand the changes and struggles that face today's youth.
Even with the unpleasant subject, this book is finely written and Peters does a fantastic job addressing the morbid thoughts of a suicide attempter and the reasons behind opting for such a drastic ending.