Since work is suspended, I ended up speeding through this book.
This is a heavy one – dealing with topics such as depression, suicide, drug use, alcohol, bullying, grief and pregnancy in the context of high school students. Sometimes, I personally wish most of the situations that play out in the narrative are far from what is actually happening but times may indeed have changed since I was in high school. Or, I was just comfortably sitting in the outer circle reading the classics or solving mathematics problems. Nevertheless, this is a good read as it explores the thoughts of someone who planned and committed her suicide.
The story is told primarily from the point of view of the Liz, the resident queen bee, and her two best friends. All of them are broken pieces drawing strength from each other. Their strength as a team, however, most often than not result to destructive consequences for the people around them and even to themselves. There is almost a sense of reckless abandon in the group, particularly for Liz, yet with glimpses of vulnerability, hope and dreams in each of them.
Out of the seven billion people sharing the planet with her, not one of them knew what was going through her head. Not one of them knew that she was lost. Not one of them asked.
That thought of Liz as quoted above is quite powerful. It speaks of how there can be layers to a person; how one's thoughts may not readily be apparent from her actions. Yet, she wants someone to check on her. She actually tried to reach out to the guidance counselor in the story but the trust was just not there and she ended up discarding the counselor's advice in the process.
The story, for me, was also able to flesh out her two best friends – Julia and Kennie – quite well. By the end of it, I understood their personality and their hardships, which is beyond the facade they have been projecting to other students at Meridian High School. There was no mention of what happened to them in the epilogue but I hope they delivered on their promises to Liz while she was still in the hospital surrounded by machines and tubes. And, for Liam, I hope he realizes he deserves someone more – no need to look after broken pieces.
The story was told in various timelines – before the planned suicide, minutes before the crash, and after the crash with recollections from Liz' childhood sprinkled in the narrative. For me, the arrangement was quite ok even if it is not linear since I was able to follow the flow of the story. I found her childhood to be very important in the narrative as it appeared that she never really recovered from her grief in losing her father at an early age. My main concern in reading the book, however, is the voice being used in some of the chapters. I thought she had a sibling but it was just the voice of her imaginary friend. I found it odd.
All in all, it was a good read but a bit too heavy. I should choose my next book carefully.
The book ended with details on resources available 24/7 for people who need help, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK  or http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org) or the Crisis Text Line (text LISTEN to 741-741). For the Philippines, Hopeline may be reached at (02) 804-4637; 0917-5584673; and 2919 for Globe and TM subscribers (source: gmanewsonline website).
The book also shared some of the signs, namely deep sadness, loss of interest/withdrawal, trouble sleeping or eating, having a death wish such as taking unnecessary risks, increasing use of alcohol or drugs, and mood swings.