Posts Tagged ‘Suicide’

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven.

January 15, 2015 Comments off

all bright placesAll the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. Pub Penguin, 2015.

If you read one Young Adult book this year make it this one. It will blow your mind. I once heard an interviewer ask Stephen Fry why he went off medication and he answered “I missed all those highs”. This book is about all those highs and those lows of two teenagers and possibly half their friends who are suffering from some form of mental illness.

Theodore Finch doesn’t know who he is. he has a number of personnas – Badass Finch, Dirtbag Finch, Loser Finch and 80,s Finch among others. He has had some sort of breakdown that he refers to as the Asleep. His parents are separated, there is little communication in the home and his sportsman father has physically abused him as a child.

Finch is falling apart but in the most brilliant of fashions. His wit and imagination are superb. You will laugh, wonder and cry at the same time. Finch narrates most of the chapters.

Finch meets Violet at the top of the school bell tower. Both are standing on the ledge contemplating what if I jump? Finch talks Violet out of it although everybody thinks it is the other way round. Violet was involved in a car accident in which her older sister was killed. She can’t get over it. She wears her sisters glasses and refuses to get into a car. All her old pastimes and interests fall by the wayside. Her excuse is “I am not ready yet”. It is a cop out and she knows it. Violet narrates the rest of the chapters in response to contact with Finch.

The meeting with Finch on the bell tower is to change both their lives as is the geography assignment in which they are partners. Lots of school stuff and some good and bad adults.

It is brilliant. If you don’t read this you deserve a kicking.

Dear Vincent by Mandy Hager

May 15, 2013 Comments off

dear vincentDear Vincent by Mandy hager. Pub. Random House, 2013.

This is Mandy Hager’s best novel and she has had some good ones. It is beautifully crafted, extremely well written with characters whose lives burst out the pages and it is about teen suicide.

I hear you gasp! No one wins from suicide. You never know what is round the corner no matter how hard life seems. Sometimes perceptions and reality are polls apart as it is with 17 year old Tara the main character in this novel.

Tara lives with her loveless mother and stroke affected father in a rundown, spartan and cold house. She spoon feeds her father , washes him and puts him to bed while her mother works. Her sister ,Vanessa or Van, who she adored, killed herself 5 years previously when she too was 17 years old. This age is not a good one for this family.

Tara is a brilliant art student but her parents don’t care, or do they? She is smitten by the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh whose works and life are a main character in this novel. A quotation from van Gogh’s letters appears at the start of every chapter.

Tara finds out that her sister killed herself while in Northern Ireland from whence her parents had fled in the middle of the Troubles. But is this the only reason they fled? Tara goes into a rage and a decline in morale and mental health. Help is at hand. She is saved by a legless old man who survived the holocaust and his grandson who are wonderful people.

When Tara causes her father to be hospitalised, she attacks her mother in an argument that will leave you breathless. She subsequently leaves for Ireland to seek her past and discovers truths that no-one is prepared for.

The ending is superb and wonderfully hopeful. I cried my heart out.

Young adult mainly but really anyone who feels their life is worthless and contemplates suicide. Don’t miss it. I will never forget this novel.