In 27 Days by Alison Gervais

The novel is about a young teenager who goes back 27 days in time to save a classmate from committing suicide. The teenage girl named Hadley never knew the boy named Archer who took his own life but felt compelled to help save his life. She goes through a lot in order to get closer to this boy. She uncovers secrets about him and learns more about herself.

I love this novel for multiple reasons. The first is that the story is very compelling and the characters are relatable. Many people have been through traumatic experiences and would probably feel the pain Archer was going through. People are lonely all of the time and no one seems to notice. I relate to Hadley, the girl who tries to stop the boy from committing suicide. She is a very compassionate character who goes out of her way to help this classmate that was a stranger not too long ago. I truly felt like I understood her feeling of emptiness when he was gone, guilt for not trying to talk to his freshman year and dedication to saving him from taking his own life where people cared about him and needed him.

The second reason is because suicide is a prevalent issue that needs to be addressed in 2020. This novel shows the importance of looking for suicidal signs and the possible ways people can help prevent others from taking their own life. Many people are very lonely and need to have someone to talk to. I think that this novel is an example of what could happen if we as a society were more inclusive.

-Ellie B.

If you or someone you know has discussed or thought about suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers, Paperback ...

Biff, Mick, Copeland, and Jake, four people living in a small town in the south of The United States, all have their own ideas and goals. However, they fail in their attempts to communicate with the people around them, leaving them in a lonely situation that no one understands. Everyone is afraid of loneliness and unwilling to live alone but is lonely every day. Biff runs a cafe, and one of his favorite things to do is observe the diverse clientele sitting in the cafe. The marital life between Biff and his wife Alice is not harmonious and they seldom talk. Mick is a masculine little girl who loves music and painting and wants to get out of town and become a musician. But her dream was not supported by her family, and her parents only thought it was whimsical.

Copeland was a black doctor. He always had a strong sense of responsibility and mission. He made it his solemn mission to save the whole black race. He sacrificed his family for his ideal, leaving his wife and children behind. Jake was an active organizer of the workers’ movement with his own political views. He felt disappointed at the failure in his work and helpless at the whole social system. His heart yearned for someone who would understand him. To many in the town, Singer is the perfect man. He generously helped everyone in need. He was a patient listener who listened to their chatter with great interest, so everyone looked to him as a confidant and a source of support.

There are many legends about him in the town, and some people regard him as the incarnation of God. Biff, Mick, Copeland, and Jake all think that Singer understands what they are saying and agrees with the way they think and act. In fact, the irony is that Singer never understood them at all. Mr. Singer just needs them to cope with his loneliness. In the same way, they cannot really read Singer whose loneliness is so deep and hidden. As a child, Singer yearned for love and belonging. Singh and his best friend Antonapoulos lived together in the town for ten years.

Deep love for Antonapoulos was the backbone of his life. After a serious illness, Antonapoulos became irritable and was no longer content to stay at home quietly at night. When he went out, Singer followed him closely, and they went into a restaurant and sat down at a table, while Antonapoulos secretly pocketed sugar cubes or some silver. Singer always picks up the tab after him. Antonapoulos is eventually sent to an alien psychiatric hospital, and Singer’s life is filled with memories of their happy past and the prospect of a brief vacation together. Without him, Singer moves to a new house where he spends his boring time with Biff, Mick, Copeland, and Jake. When he went to see his companion for the third time, he received news of his death. Singer was then so desperate that he shot himself.

-Coreen C.

For One More Day by Mitch Albom

It so often seems that the answer to the question is always clear after something has happened and can never be reversed. No one knows why the answer wasn’t there before, why it’s here now if it’s even there at all. The only thing we could ever know is this: we should have been different Before, in order to prevent a distinguished After.

This idea, this concept that has shadowed us for as long as we have existed, is presented in Mitch Albom’s eerie and reflective masterpiece “For One More Day.”

The story concentrates on Chick Benetto, who’s addictive abuse of alcohol and general absence drives a barrier between himself and his ex-wife and daughter. Chick, believing that his broken life is no longer worth living, attempts to return to his hometown, determined to end his life in the very place it began. Before reaching the town, he experiences a fatal car crash, leaving him unconscious for a short period of time.

In his unconscious state, Chick explores a third place, in which he and his mother (who had passed away eight years previous) are reunited. Chick experiences this phenomenon as one day — a final full day to spend with his mother, fit together the mysterious pieces of his life that have haunted him since childhood, and understand the mistakes he has made in the relationship between himself and his mother.

Through Chick’s retrospective memories of times his mother stood up for him versus the times he didn’t do the same for her, the audience is able to make a compelling realization: the immense power that regret can hold over us. The concept is one familiar to us all, one with stable foundations in the evolution of human nature. Through regret, we begin to visualize the border between Before and After.

In the miraculous account illustrated in For One More Day, the readers encounter the pure, everlasting enigma that is a mother’s love. Alongside the idea of love’s promise of forever, the novel, while exceptionally sad, sends a message of hope to the readers: hope for forgiveness, hope for mending the mistakes we never truly meant to make, hope for new beginnings. And perhaps the best new beginning to offer is to pick up For One More Day and marvel at Albom’s literary craftsmanship.

—Keira D.

For One More Day by Mitch Albom is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. OIt can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Another Country by James Baldwin

Image result for Another Country (novel)

This novel explores all aspects of maturity, including homosexuality, marriage, death and friendship. Of course at first this book sounded somewhat uncomfortable to me and I really didn’t want to read it. But because over the course of the period I have became the biggest of the James Baldwin I eventually decided to read it at last.

Initially, Rufus Scott is definitely a character that me, or almost everyone can relate with. At one point during our lives, we wonder what really is the point of life or why should we exist on this earth? I get tired of constantly changing faces and hiding my real self as if happiness was only mask on my face, I only peel it off when I go into my room and throw it in the trashcan. Only with Rufus Scott, he goes to the extreme and directly suicides. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s got a family there to support him, or at least half of the family.

Moving on the marriage between Cass and Richard pretty much presents a typical style of American life. One person has an affair, and the marriage breaks. Both people are not excellent parents but they still love their kids in my opinion. This also reflects how parents in real life tend to neglect the real needs of their kids due to their own stress or jobs.

-Coreen C.

Another Country by James Baldwin is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

 

Comparison: Thirteen Reasons Why

Recently, a series for the novel Thirteen Reasons Why, was released on Netflix. Out of curiosity and the large amount of people raving about it, I decided to watch it. I read the book a couple years ago and hoped the series would do well to mimic it. Please note that this is a serious and powerful piece of work with triggering and sensitive topics. While it holds important lessons, it may not be a book/series for everyone.

A quick synopsis: Hannah Baker is the new girl at her small high school, ready for a fresh start. Almost immediately she captures the attention and interest of many and while it seems like her life is going well, it takes an unexpected downward spiral. Social media, rumors and loneliness saturate Hannah’s life and turn it upside down. She suffocates under pressure and undergoes numerous internal issues. Eventually she commits suicide and leaves behind thirteen cassette tapes holding thirteen reasons why she ended her life. The thirteen people responsible for her passing are hit with the overpowering realization that their actions and words are more than just actions and words.

The book, written by Jay Asher, is incredible and captures the essence of what it is like to be a teenager, overwhelmed by the struggles of today’s society. The book was personal and eerie but the series made everything come to life. Yes, the series over exaggerated some parts and added more details to parts in the book that were briefly discussed. However, that realism and graphic detail is what really speaks and captures the attention of many. Without using detail to demonstrate the severity of Hannah’s problems, people can be tempted to overlook them. The book and series share similarities such as the relationships between the characters, and the secrets and rumors that get spread around. Like any book and show, they hold differences as well. The biggest difference is how raw the series is. There are more in-depth character backgrounds, more dramatic confrontations between characters and heavier, darker scenes.

This book is a huge metaphor; while Hannah is one individual in this one particular book, she stands for every human in this world that may be going through exactly what Hannah went through. She stands for those who are too scared to speak out and she stands for what our society needs to fix. Thirteen Reasons Why not only acknowledges flaws in our world but also shines a light on the importance of being kind and realizing that everyone fights their own personal battles.

-Jessica T.

Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Program by Suzanne Young

theprogram_suzanneyoung“But the psychologists say that suicide is a behavioral contagion. It’s the old adage ‘If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you, too?’ Apparently the answer is yes” (9).

In Sloane’s world, nothing is as it seems. Any sign of depression, even just crying in public, and a teenager risks being sent to The Program, a “solution” to the suicide epidemic. Here, teenagers’ minds are wiped clean so they can start their lives again. The handlers medicate them to erase all their pain and memories, leaving all the returners “empty,” as Sloane might say.

Sloane, her boyfriend James, and their friend Miller do not agree. They would prefer to die than be sent to The Program, which makes things slightly more complicated.

Overall, I found this book to be a compelling read. I would definitely recommend it, yet keep in mind that it discusses a sensitive topic. For that reason, I would recommend this book for a slightly older audience. Even at my age, I was a disturbed by the repetition of suicide in the novel.

On a brighter note, however, the narrative was sentimental. The Program is definitely one of those books where you sympathize with the characters. From the perspective of a critic, the storytelling leaves readers with questions which are left unanswered until the very end, which makes me want to read the rest of the series.

– Leila S., 10th grade

The Program is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Library