Tag Archives: Suicide

Teen’s Choice Reviews April 2014

At the end of last year I decided to start having my book club students recommend titles for me. I have each person pick three titles that they would like me to read and then I randomly select one. Here are the two Teen’s Choice books for April:

At my high school book club, I drew Maggie’s suggestion:

universe verses

The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence
June 25, 2013
Hardcover, 407 pages

What it’s about:

When he was ten-years old Alex Woods, the bookish son of a fortune-teller, was hit in the head by a meteorite. This event left him scarred and seizure prone and made him the perfect target for the village bullies. Life isn’t easy for him, but he has the bullies to thank for introducing him to Mr. Peterson, a reclusive American expat and Vietnam veteran. What begins as a punishment develops into an unlikely friendship between the two. It is the story of this friendship that Alex tells the police after he is stopped at customs with an urn of ashes and 113 grams of marijuana. Despite the potential trouble he faces, Alex knows he has done the right thing.

Why you might like it:

Do you like quirky stories with memorable characters? Alex and Mr. Peterson certainly are a memorable pair! Are you interested in issues surrounding death and dying? This book tackles assisted suicide and euthanasia. Do you enjoy books about books? You might enjoy all the discussion about the works of Vonnegut and you may be inspired to check out some of the other works Alex reads. Do you appreciate a tear-jerker? You might want to have a tissue handy while reading this one! The Universe Versus Alex Woods quietly worked its way into my heart. This debut is lovely and moving and I loved the experience.

Want more like this?

You might enjoy The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Staniford, and A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving.


This next suggestion came from another high school book club reader, Olivia. She wasn’t a fan of this one, but thought I might like it because it has zombies and is creepy.

Chasers by James Phelan
First publish May 25, 2010
Paperback, 256 pages

What it’s about:

Jesse and three of his friends from a Youth Ambassador Camp in New York City are on the subway when the explosion happens. As the four crawl from the wreckage the carnage is immediate. People are dead, buildings have collapsed, and the other survivors seem to be infected in some way. In a once crowded and bustling city the only signs of life are the predators who used to be human.

Why you might like it:

If you like creepy, post-apocalyptic stories you may enjoy Chasers. If you are a fan of psychological suspense you might want to try this one. Do you like survival stories? Jesse and his friends have some pretty clever survival techniques. Do you like a book with a surprising twist at the end? Chasers certainly ends with a shock. I did not love this book, but after the twist at the I may go back to the second book. I need answers!

Want more like this?

For more post-apocalyptic survival stories you might like Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer, Ashfall by Mike Mullin, The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan, and Ashes by Ilsa Bick.

Happy Reading!


Suicide Prevention Awareness Month: Suicide in YA Novels

*I started this post ages ago and somehow, September has just gotten away from me! Better late than never, right?*

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and since I have recently read a couple of books that address the issue of suicide, I thought I should put together a quick post. There is no shortage of books that deal with suicide. A quick search of my library catalog turned up over 30 titles in the Teen collection with the subject heading of suicide. I have not read most of them. I don’t need to because I have real life experience with coping with a suicide. But I recognize their value and hope that they always find their way into the hands of the reader in need. Books are powerful. Books can save.

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales. Elise has endured a lifetime of bullying, but she wants nothing more than to just fit in. After a final failed attempt to gain popularity, she nearly succumbs to the desire to end it all. In her moment of despair she has no idea what joy is waiting for her to stumble upon.

this song will save your life

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick. Today is Leonard Peacock’s birthday. It is also the day he plans to kill himself and his former best friend. The novel is a heartbreaking look at one teen’s final hours as he says goodbye to the four people who meant the most to him.

forgive me leonard

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. This is quickly becoming a classic. Hannah Baker committed suicide, but before she killed herself she recorded thirteen tapes explaining the reasons she ended her life.

thirteen reasons why

This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers. Sure, this is a zombie apocalypses story, but it’s not all blood and guts. The author manages to address heavy issues such as abuse, death and suicide.

this is not a tesstNonfiction

There are plenty of books both fiction and nonfiction that deal with bullying. They are powerful and important. However, there are also a few amazing nonfiction books that I find to be inspirational without being preachy. They remind readers that there is hope for the future.

Dear Teen Me by E. Kristin Anderson (editor). This is a collection of letters that authors have written to their teen selves.


Post Secrets by Frank Warren. This began as an art project and experiment and became an overnight phenomenon. This book is a collection of anonymous secrets. Some are sweet, some are horrendous. All remind readers that they are not alone.

post secrets

I Can’t Keep My Own Secrets by Rachel Fershleiser (editor). This book is a collection of six-word memoirs by teens. Some names you will recognize, others are just ordinary people.

i can't keep

According to the CDC, suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death for ages 10-24. If you or someone you know needs help, you can find 24-7 assistance on a suicide hotline.

“Everything…affects everything”
― Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why