By the Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead
Hyperion * DBG
Ages: 14 and up
Daelyn’s been the victim of bullying throughout her life and now she’s simply counting down the days until she can commit her final act on Earth. It’s destiny that she finds a Web site to help her in her quest. She has the motive, the means, and the determination. Then she meets this boy, Santana, who makes her examine her choice of death over life. But is he too late to save her? And is she too damaged to save him?
Description: Julie Ann Peters' style of description is so amazing that I didn't even notice it as I read. I got lost in her words, wrapped up in emotion and found myself just knowing things. To me, that's amazing and I hope to one day be THAT good at writing. Immediately, I felt the inside of Daelyn's house, the school and the bench that came to mean so much. No time of mine was lost or wasted trying to figure out who, what, where or why. (Score: 10/10)
Narrative: The structure of this book is unique. Daelyn can't/won't speak and the premise sets the book up right away. And I love the way internet features are worked in as part of the narrative. (Recently, at a conference, I was part of a discussion about technology in YA. By The Time You Read This is a great example of how to make current technology TIMELESS.) Julie Ann Peters really takes the reader through the story using so many different types of narrative. I learned a lot about narrative style while at the same time truly enjoying the reading experience. (Score: 10/10)
Dialogue: As I said above, Daelyn can't/won't talk. And technology is involved. So HOW does Julie Ann Peters maintain decent dialogue when the main character is mute? Well, let me tell you...that's part of the POWER of this novel. Sometimes, inner thoughts can be overdone or boring-the author is telling you what to think (and that makes me crazy!). In By The Time You Read This, it's absolutely necessary. The reader gets to know EXACTLY what Daelyn as thinking. But the best part? It's still showing not telling. And I think it's pure genius. Finally, readers have been brought directly into the world of suicidal thoughts without a whiny main character. (Score: 10/10)
Characterization: The cast in By The Time You Read This, is very small. It grows throughout the novel and to me that itself is a poetic gesture. It added to the feeling the novel stirred within me (and I didn't realize that until I sat down to write this review). I felt I knew each character, but wasn't emotionally attached or distracted by any one character. (Score: 10/10)
Resolution: Okay, here is where I get really excited (or disappointed-it depends on the book) about realistic fiction. I can not stand contrived endings. The layout of By The Time You Read This set up the reader to a high level of anticipation and then slowly closed out, leaving the TRUE ending up for discussion. It flowed naturally, beautifully-POWERFULLY. And I loved it! I plan to read and reread and reread and reread this book in hopes maybe I can absorb some of Julie Ann Peters' style.
If you've looked at my profile, by now you may know I live in Western Massachusetts-a hot spot for the bullying conversation. Phoebe Prince lived and died twenty minutes northeast from me and Carl Walker-Hoover lived and died twenty minutes east from me. Both kids were victims of bullycide. And both situations had (and still have) a profound effect on me personally.
Though I won't go into detail, I want to emphasize that I believe suicide is not related to one single reason. It's a process that takes place, a road that can curve at any time. I believe this uproar about bullying is a great segue into a deeper conversation about suicide. By The Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead shows a true to life evolution. Daelyn's issues run deep. She has support and is in treatment, and yet, all it took was ONE human-Santana-to potentially alter Daelyn's course.
The words suicide or suicidal tends to illicit such a visceral reaction in people that it's impossible to see beyond the act or attempt. Julie Ann Peters wrote this book in such a non-blaming way that I believe all people should read it. And then maybe, just maybe, we can all start acting a little more human when we need to save a life. Rating: 5 out of 5 stars