Tag Archives: suicide

Kim Savage’s Beautiful Broken Girls 

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Kim Savage’s Beautiful Broken Girls 

Because I enjoyed Kim Savage’s first book,   After the Woods, I was excited to see what she had in store for me in Beautiful Broken Girls.  The premise evoked Thirteen Reasons Why and The Virgin Suicides.  The cover intrigued me – the image is both gorgeous and unsettling.  Unfortunately, this just didn’t live up to my expectations.  I gave it three stars.


Goodreads Summary

Remember the places you touched me.

The parts of Mira Cillo that Ben touched are etched on his soul.

Palm. Hair. Chest. Cheek. Lips. Throat. Heart.

It was the last one that broke her. After her death, Mira sends Ben on a quest for notes she left in the seven places where they touched—notes that explain why she and her sister, Francesca, drowned themselves in the quarry. How Ben interprets those notes has everything to do with the way he was touched by a bad coach years before. But the truth behind the girls’ suicides is far more complicated, involving a dangerous infatuation, a deadly miracle, and a crushing lie.

My Thoughts

I think the author was trying to create a book that was haunting and ethereal, but it impacted the coherence of the story.  The narrative is disjointed and hard to follow.  It didn’t help that I could never decipher what was motivating anyone.  All of the characters are enigmas for the entirety of the book.  I think the most glaring issue is that there is no character to function as a reliable guide for a reader just entering into this tragic and strange world.  I was intrigued by the mystery initially, but ultimately felt like the solution fell flat despite the fact that it is beyond bizarre.  I get where the comparison to The Virgin Suicides and Thirteen Reasons Why is drawn, but readers looking for either of those are bound to be disappointed with what they actually find.  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 10+.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Dreaming of Antigone 

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Dreaming of Antigone 

You can’t have a book that references Antigone without some dark family drama, and this book does rise to the challenge.  Dead sisters, men abusing power, and questions about fate and guilt surface in a contemporary take on the way we protect and destroy our families.

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Goodreads Summary

Every star has its own path…

“I can’t ever be the blazing star that Iris was. I’m still just a cold, dark satellite orbiting a star that went super nova.”
Andria’s twin sister, Iris, had adoring friends, a cool boyfriend, a wicked car, and a shelf full of soccer trophies. She had everything, in fact—including a drug problem. Six months after Iris’s death, Andria is trying to keep her grades, her friends, and her family from falling apart. But stargazing and books aren’t enough to ward off her guilt that she—the freak with the scary illness and all-black wardrobe—is still here when Iris isn’t. And then there’s Alex Hammond. The boy Andria blames for Iris’s death. The boy she’s unwittingly started swapping lines of poetry and secrets with, even as she tries to keep hating him.

Heartwrenching, smart, and bold, Dreaming of Antigone is a story about the jagged pieces that lie beneath the surface of the most seemingly perfect life…and how they can fit together to make something wholly unexpected.

My Thoughts

Readers will appreciate the honest depiction of the emotions and internal battles that are part of the aftermath of tragedy.  Andria, the narrator, is compelling both for her normalcy and for the events in her life that make her anything but normal.  Her conflicted attraction to the reformed bad boy she feels is responsible for her sister’s terrible spiral makes for an engaging set of complications as well.  I have to say, too, that the author took a set of dramatic circumstances and managed to keep them from taking over the story.  The focus here is really on the relationships, and I think that is why it worked so well.  Feelings and reactions didn’t feel exaggerated or overblown, and I think YA readers will respond to this tone because it feels believable.  Finally, you don’t gave to have any background knowledge to enjoy this book, but if you do, it adds another layer to the story.  I particularly enjoyed the way Andria’s perceptions of herself shift how she relates to the Greek tragedy she is studying in high school.  Overall, I think this book will be popular with my high school readers and I’m adding it to my high school classroom library wish list.  While the themes are mature, the approach makes this book appropriate for grades 9+.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Stacie Ramey’s The Sister Pact is hard hitting and eye opening YA

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Stacie Ramey’s The Sister Pact is hard hitting and eye opening YA

The Sister Pact wasn’t a book I was falling all over myself to read, and I honestly just meant to give it a few chapters before going to bed.  Uh, no.  I read this book straight through because I had to get a resolution.  I found it very compelling, but also really hard to read because it was so emotionally distressing.  I think fans of Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why will find it particularly engaging, and I anticipate It will be well received by YA readers of many ages.

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Goodreads Summary

A suicide pact was supposed to keep them together, but a broken promise tore them apart

Allie is devastated when her older sister commits suicide – and not just because she misses her. Allie feels betrayed. The two made a pact that they’d always be together, in life, and in death, but Leah broke her promise and Allie needs to know why.

Her parents hover. Her friends try to support her. And Nick, sweet Nick, keeps calling and flirting. Their sympathy only intensifies her grief.

But the more she clings to Leah, the more secrets surface. Allie’s not sure which is more distressing: discovering the truth behind her sister’s death or facing her new reality without her.

My Thoughts

Both the character of Allie and the conflict created by her sister’s death were really compelling.  I related to the bond the sisters forged in the battlefield of their parent’s marriage, and I was as puzzled by Leah’s decision to commit suicide and leave her sister alone as Allie was.  There were a lot of secrets and lies revealed in this story, and though many of them turned out to be typical and even mundane, it was easy to see how they added up to an unforeseen disaster in the end.  I think that is important for people to read about because creating empathy can be key to preventing tragedies like this, and I thought it was quite smart for the author to subtly press readers with the idea that truth and saying what you mean is important in life.  I’m still a little torn about some things in this book.  Leah’s death and Allie’s perceptions about her familiy’s unhappiness do boil down to a blame game, and it isn’t always that way in real life.  I think I would have been happier if the book had been clearer about how personal choices lead to consequences, and everyone has to take responsibility for their own fallout.  I am also a little overwhelmed by the sheer flow of drugs in this book.  I’m not stupid, and I teach high school, so I know that prescription drug abuse is real and it is big.  The attitude and love/hate relationship Allie and her family has with them was still pretty shocking.  There are clear consequences for taking the pills, and none of the experiences are anything I would feel drawn to replicate, but it reminded me of the infamous “Go Ask Alice” at points, so I expect there will be a few ruffled parental/authority figure feathers when this hits library shelves.  Overall, this is a book that I found I couldn’t turn away from, even when the reading got emotional and truths got tough.  Language and situations are most appropriate for mature high school readers.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All the Bright Places: A Book I’m Still Thinking About Two Months Later

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All the Bright Places: A Book I’m Still Thinking About Two Months Later

While All the Bright Places is publishing today, I got a chance to read it in November. I’ve thought about this book a lot since then. I’ve seen a few negative reviews and I’ve considered what they have to say. The conclusion I’ve reached is that I recognized these kids. I’ve seen them in my halls and called them out for their antics, and prayed they would live through another weekend if I let them out of my sight. The authenticity of these characters will touch readers who know people like Theodore and Violet. This book will resonate with you and punch you in the cry box. If you don’t believe they are real people because you cannot fathom teens like these, you may fail to connect. This is one of my top reads for the new year. I’m recommending it to students left and right. They go to school with these characters. If you liked The Fault in Our Stars or Thirteen Reasons Why, or Eleanor and Park, add this one to your TBR list.

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All the Bright Places
Jennifer Niven
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published January 6th 2015 by Knopf

Theodore struggles with periods of overwhelming depression. Violet can seem to figure out how to live since her sister died. When the two meet while contemplating suicide on the same ledge, they find that some things might be worth living for. The characters were people I recognized, believed in, and quickly learned to care for. The plot was paced well, allowing time for a relationship to develop without dragging. I was engaged in the outcome and read it straight through in one sitting. I thought the themes were well suited to the intended audience and came from a pair of sincere and believable teen voices. I am still thinking very hard about the way this one ended, and it is going to stick with me for a while. Language, sensuality, and situations are edgy, as is any good contemporary YA that reads authentically to its intended audience. It is appropriate for mature high school readers.