Friday, November 12, 2010


Author Julie Anne Peters has written an incredibly powerful new book focusing on bullying and the issue of suicide as a consequence.  With this problem appearing so recently in national news, BY THE TIME YOU READ THIS, I'LL BE DEAD is a book to be read and taken seriously.

Overweight, misunderstood, and bullied for almost her entire life, Daelyn has already tried suicide.  Her attempts so far have failed, but after finding a website called Through-the-Light, her determination to end her life has been renewed.

After multiple attempts, the most recent resulting in permanent damage to her esophagus and vocal cords, her parents have her under close watch.  She finally regains her computer privileges which allow her to find the website that has connected her to others serious about terminating their lives.  She is officially registered on the site and has chosen her DOD - Day of Determination.  In 23 days she will be dead.

What follows is Daelyn's account of those 23 days.  She details her horrific past including "fat camp" and its humiliations, a sexual attack in the boys' restroom, and countless other bullying incidents that have stripped her of any feelings of trust or self-worth.  Feeling totally friendless and never able to confide in her parents, she has suffered alone.

During the 23 days, Daelyn does have some new insights.  As she documents her struggles online, she is able to view her past in a new light that provides a kind of release.  She also meets a boy outside her school as she waits for her mother's car each day.  This odd character has serious issues of his own, but he relentlessly pursues her friendship and helps her imagine new possibilities.

Much of this book is dark and deeply disturbing, especially when Daelyn spends time online.  To realize that there are sites like the one she visits that describe in such detail the methods and options for suicide seekers, it is frightening to think how venerable people might be influenced to take this drastic step.  Peters attacks this subject bravely and doesn't attempt to soften it or romanticize it.  She provides a needed voice for those unable to express the inner torment caused by the cruelty and viciousness of some in our society today.

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