After her grandparents’ unexpected deaths, Anna begins to feel untethered from her life. She fantasizes about suicide, the only end to the awful pressure of existing that she can see. On the outside, her best friend Aliya senses something isn’t right with her usually level-headed friend. But as Anna’s behavior becomes more and more erratic, it’s hard for her friends and family members to face the truth that something is deeply wrong.
This is a fairly dark story about a teenage girl suffering from depression. What I liked most was having the inside and outside views of Anna—in her point-of-view and her friend Aliya’s. I found it easy to empathize especially with Aliya because while she watched Anna spiral downward, she wanted to help, but she didn’t want to overreact. Where’s the line between someone having an off day versus some kind of deeper masked depression? I had several friends who wrestled with thoughts of suicide in high school, so that definitely resonated with me.
There are a couple of sections of the story written from Anna’s mom’s point-of-view that I didn’t think were really necessary. Of anything, they felt the most preachy and repetitive, since often we saw the same scene again through Anna’s perspective.
Often a story about depression (sometimes even without meaning to) glamorizes the depression itself. This story doesn’t do that. Anna’s feelings are disturbing, even to her, but she feels trapped by them. They make her blind to the things going on around her—things like the boy who has a crush on her, and the joy she once felt spending time with her friends. Detached captured that element of depression really well, I thought, and it also offers hope without feeling chastising or belittling to Anna’s experience. We see the trauma that not only she experiences. We see it in the reactions of her family members and her friends.
While I think this is a great examination of depression and suicidal thoughts, some of Anna’s ideas and pursuits are a bit graphic. This might not be a good read for someone in the midst of these kinds of feelings. Friends and family members of someone suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts might find the window into Anna’s and her family’s experiences validating or helpful.
See the content notes for additional information.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Moderate profanity. The first half only uses mild profanity infrequently. After an intense event, Anna ups the ante and swears quite a bit (which she acknowledges).
Kyle hopes to ask Anna out, but instead chickens out.
Anna briefly contemplates jumping in front of a car to end her life, but worries about facing God afterward. What if she killed innocent people in the process?
Later, she comments that maybe God figures she deserves to die after all when one of her plans to kill herself seems to be coming together easily.
Anna faces her family’s grief over her depression, and for a moment wishes to go back to believing she succeeded with her suicide.
Anna spends a lot of time fantasizing about and planning her suicide. She makes several attempts to kill herself, one of which is pretty violent. A boy hangs himself in a tree on Halloween. He appears to be the victim of bullying.
Anna and her friends sneak off to parties a couple of times. Anna drinks beer and lies to her mom about it. Aliya and her friends also drink.
Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.