I wrote this review when I first finished the book back in December. I just couldn’t share it then. It was fresh and,frankly, it hurt. Since I last looked at this review, even more students in my area have taken their own lives. I don’t think that I’ll accomplish anything through sharing this review, but I do think it represents my role in the collective grieving process of a city crying for its children. Or something less pretentious. I don’t know. Anyways…
Have you ever finished a book, and then just sat there silently, overwhelmed by what you read? This book had that effect on me.
Let me preface this review by saying that this is not an easy book to read. It’s not some candy-coated adolescent take on suicide. The only other book that I compare with it is Looking for Alaska by John Green. Both deal with the deaths of beautiful girls at their own hands, the inability to come to terms with the events leading up to the tragedy, and the boys who idolized them, to summarize in a sentence.
Both are painfully and poignantly painted portraits of what it feels like to be a teenager. As a teen myself, it’s easy to see my friends and classmates in these books. And it makes it more powerful that there was a string of suicides within the last year of good-looking, talented, popular high-schoolers, some of whom were my friends. One was my friend’s older sister.
What drives a person to kill themselves? This book won’t tell you. There is no answer. Instead this book is about those left behind, about the group of boys who loved the Lisbon girls from afar and how they can’t seem to get the deaths out of their minds.
Like I’ve said, this book is raw. There’s drinking, sex, drug usage, and more. This is what teenage culture looks like. It isn’t pretty, but it’s real. If it were a movie I’d rate it as PG-13 at least. (actually there is a movie, an I enjoyed it but for different reasons)
Read this book for your daughters, your granddaughters, your friends, yourself. Read it if the audacity of hope ever seemed to be too good to true.
“It didn’t matter in the end how old they had been, or that they were girls, but only that we had loved them, and that they hadn’t heard us calling, still do not hear us, up here in the tree house with our thinning hair and soft bellies, calling them out of those rooms where they went to be alone for all time, alone in suicide, which is deeper than death, and where we will never find the pieces to put them back together.