I liked the book a lot. It is well-written, short, and thoughtful. Many of the teen characters are wise beyond their years. I ached for Caitlin and for Ingrid's family, for what they were going through. But I also asked myself, why did the healing process take so long, and where were the adults that should have stepped in to help?
Those questions got me thinking about YA lit in general and about why so many of the books cover very depressing themes. Is it that teens won't read the books unless the characters have worse problems than they do? Why are the adults in this book always so inept in helping? In Caitlin's case, her parents were very loving and present. They cared tremendously but their love didn't translate into tangible help, at least not in the beginning. Is there some important message that teens get out of books where teens work their way out of their troubles alone?
When asked why he thinks his book is so popular, Jay Asher, the author of Thirteen Reasons Why, another story about teen suicide, had this to say in an interview with Jay Brunner of Shelf Life:
Books are often very nice advice-givers. They aren't judgmental and they don't push or prod. So perhaps, this explains why there are so many YA book about depressing topics. Teens are emerging adults. They are learning about their world and themselves. They have conflicting feelings, many of them seem overwhelming. Where better to find some neutral advice than a good book?
Please let me know why you think that so many YA books cover depressing topics. Perhaps you have thought of some reasons that I haven't.
In the meantime, here are some other YA titles that cover very sensitive and upsetting topics. All of these books I've read and can recommend.
-The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie (Racism, alcoholism, death)
-Exposed by Kimberly Marcus (Rape, peer relationships)
-Deadline by Chris Crutcher (Death)
-Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going (Weight Issues, depression, peer relationships)
-If I Stay by Gayle Forman (Death)
-Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta (Abandonment, death, peer relationships)
-Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X. Stork (Death)
-Looking for Alaska by John Green (Death, peer relationships)
-The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (Peer Relationships)
-Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King (Death, depression)
-The Perks of Becoming a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (Sexual Identity, peer relationships)
-The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin (Parental Abuse, mental illness)
-The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson (Death)
-Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick (Death of a parent, poverty)
-Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (Rape, depression)
-Split by Swati Avasthi (Domestic Abuse)
-Staying Fat for Sarah Brynes by Chris Crutcher (Depression, parental abuse, peer relationships)
-Tales of the Madman Underground by John Barnes (Alcoholism, death, domestic abuse)
-Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson (Depression, Peer Relationships)
-Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson (Eating disorders)