Friday, May 27, 2011

By the Time you Read this, I'll be Dead

     By the Time you Read this, I'll be Dead by Julie Anne Peters is a very heart-wrenching, but important book to read, especially if you love a child or care about bullying.  The book was well-written and is a realistic portrayal of bullying and suicide.  
     Daelyn has been bullied her entire life.  Her parents try to help with advice like, "Sticks and stones...."  They feel helpless and struggle to help her, but it alienates Daelyn. 
     After being assaulted in the boy's bathroom, she becomes suicidal.  She has tried several times to kill herself, but always "fails."  This time will be different.  Daelyn finds a website called Through-the-Light.  It promises to help you kill yourself, but you must agree to wait for a minimum of 23 days.  Daelyn anxiously counts down days to her death.  In those 23 days we see how daily bullying can lead to a self-hatred so deep, death seems the only way out.  Daelyn cannot stop the bullies, but she can stop the hurt.  It is her way of taking back her own power. 
    I loved Santana.  He seemed very real and I liked him instantly.  Santana was totally different than the other kids in the book, which was interesting because he was also the only kid to be home schooled in the book.  By putting all of the kids together and ignoring their behavior, do they revert to savagery?  Do we as teachers and administrators subconciously (or otherwise) allow bullying to go on because it prepares them for real life?  Do we think they become harder and ready to deal with the cruel world of business?  Hmmmm...
     Although I liked Santana's mom, I felt she was an undeveloped character that just served as a foil for Daelyn's relationship to her parents.  I would have liked to see her develop more on her own merits. 
    The thing I didn't like was the ending.  I have been Daelyn in different times in my life and the ending was not believable.   Daelyn could make the decision she made in time, but it is unrealistic to come to that decision in the last two pages of the book.  I think the author should have spent more time leading her to that decision or have cut out the last chapter and left us to wonder what she would choose.
     This book is more appropriate for high school students because of the graphic details of the assault and the pros and cons of various methods of suicide.  It is a good book for teens dealing with suicide or bullying.  It is also a good book for the adults in their lives that have forgotten how horrible bullying is when you are in school.  Daelyn's parents have forgotten what it is like, so they are unable to help their daughter effectively.  

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