By The Time You Read This I’ll Be Dead- Review

Ok, I admit it. I chose a book by its cover. When exploring the teen section at Chapters the cover of By the Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters really stood out.  I don’t usually gravitate toward depressing reads, but the combination of the eerie title and cover art drew me in.

PLOT: Although Daelyn Rice has attempted to commit suicide multiple times, she is determined to get it right. After years of bulling and torment, Daelyn joins the Through the Light website for ‘completers’ to share stories, and discuss ways to end your life. She is given 23 days until her ‘Date of Determination’.  During this time she prepares her death more carefully, and promises not to get caught or saved like her past failed efforts (including the last botched attempt when she drank ammonia bleach and severely burned her vocal chords). However, during this countdown, she hadn’t planned on meeting a very special home-schooled boy named Santana, who has taken quite a liking to Daelyn (whether she likes it or not).

What I DIDN’T like about the book:

-Reading the detailed descriptions of ways to commit suicide. Each possible suicide method includes: effectiveness, time, availability, pain, and notes. Are such descriptions necessary? Could this possible give teens ideas? It just seemed that the author was trying too hard to be controversial.

-Authenticity of characters.  I LOVED the character of Satana, even more so than Daelyn. However, I am not sure how realistic it is for a teen boy to persist someone who ignores him, uses him for his computer, and even stab him with a pencil.

-Open ending. I understand that some readers love endings that are open to interpretation, but I prefer stories that demonstrate how the characters wind up. I re-read the ending several times, and although I hope Daelyn chose life over death, I remain unsure. Especially after connecting with some of Daelyn’s struggles and inner-thoughts, it would be really difficult and heart-breaking to interpret her ‘heading into the light’ as death.  I would have liked some closure.

What I DID like about the book:

-Insightful information about teens dealing with suicidal thoughts.  Readers can understand just how bullying can send individuals over the edge.  Can be used a discussion starter.

-The character of Santana. He was hilarious, and I found myself wishing for more of Santana.  I hope the author continues his story.

 -Resources. I think it’s important to include resources when dealing with difficult topics, especially suicide. I thought that the Through the Light website was ficticious, but was pleasantly surprised to learn that it is a website version of the discussion guide, facts and hotlines that are available at the back of the book.

Although I’m glad I read Daelyn’s story, I’m happy to be moving on in my ever-growing stack of YA novels.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Brynna
    Jul 20, 2010 @ 18:47:46


    Just thought that you might be interested in reading Beautiful Boy, the story of a father going through his son’s meth addiction. It really goes inside the life of an addict.

    Loving the books reviews!

    Also… The Book of Awesome is a great coffee table book with little pick me ups!

    Bry x0x


  2. booksintransit
    Jul 20, 2010 @ 19:33:36

    Thanks lady!
    Hmm-I’ll have to look into Beautiful Boy. I really loved Lullabies fo Little Criminals.
    Yeah, I bought the Book of Awesome a while ago. It’s in my TO READ pile! Review to come soon!haha


  3. Taylor
    Mar 25, 2012 @ 21:17:02

    Im having a hard time understanding this book …and I’ve asked a numerous amount of people but no one seems to be able to give me a time line of events…if you could help in any way that would be great


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