Reviews for By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Fall
Determined to make this suicide attempt successful, Daelyn, the novel's emotionally damaged, unreliable narrator, signs on to a website that prepares people for their "Date of Determination." While waiting for clearance to off herself, Daelyn grudgingly describes her life (she wears a neck brace and is mute) in a journal. Peters's spare, terse writing effectively echoes her protagonist's state of mind. Resources are appended. Websites. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2010 #2
The book's title is a promise that main character Daelyn makes to herself: though not her first suicide attempt, she is determined to make this her last. To that end, she signs on to an interactive website that prepares people for their "Date of Determination" by suggesting methods (including pain and effectiveness ratings) to guide them "through-the-light." Daelyn, who wears a neck brace and is mute, counts down to her DOD, grudgingly describing her daily life in a journal while waiting for the website's clearance to off herself. The monotony of her existence is broken when a goofy, pesky boy named Santana sits down beside her after school one day. Undeterred by Daelyn's seething hostility, he won't go away. Peters's spare, terse writing perfectly echoes her protagonist's state of mind. Aggressively uncommunicative for most of the book, Daelyn grows increasingly adamant about sharing her story as her DOD nears. In a climactic scene she spills her guts in a Through-the-Light chat room; hardly anyone listens, though, wholly absorbed by their own problems. Throughout the novel, Peters trusts readers to recognize Daelyn as an emotionally damaged, single-mindedly unreliable narrator. The authenticity afforded by the author's unwavering commitment to her main character's often distorted perspective elevates the story above its morbidly titillating will-she-or-won't-she element. A reader's guide, research on bullying, and lists of suicide warning signs, hotlines, and websites are appended. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2009 November #5

After a few suicide attempts, the most recent of which left her unable to speak, teenage narrator Daelyn joins a Web site called Through-the-Light, which gives her 23 days to prepare for death. Although rules state that "[p]articipants may not attempt to dissuade or discourage self-termination," the site does send provoking questions so she can think through her choice. Through Daelyn's rants in the site's forums and in her embittered internal narrative, readers will come to understand her struggles (from being molested in the boys' bathroom to being sent to fat camp) and see people trying to connect with her, including offbeat Santana, who is dealing with his own pain--cancer. Peters (Luna) doesn't pull any punches (Through-the-Light details various suicide methods, each with an effectiveness rating, and the users' stories are painfully real). Readers may find some plotting heavy-handed (such as Daelyn's growing friendship with a boy who really wants to live), but even so, this book and its open-ended conclusion will challenge teens to think about the impact of bullying--including cyberbullying--and Through-the-Light's controversial stance that "self-termination is your right." Ages 14-up. (Jan.)

[Page 49]. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

School Library Journal Reviews 2010 May

Gr 9 Up--Daelyn Rice has been bullied her entire life, whether it was for her past weight problem or because she currently does not talk and wears a neck brace. She has attempted suicide several times in several different ways and is now more determined than ever to end her life. Daelyn discovers a Web site called Through-the-Light, which is for suicide "completers." There she communicates with others who share the same goal. The members share stories of bullying, molestation, etc., and encourage each other's ultimate goal. Meanwhile, Daelyn meets a boy named Santana. She wants nothing to do with him; his presence and determination to draw her out of her shell only annoy her. Over time and as new information surfaces (he has cancer), however, she finds herself drawn to him. Will their connection be enough to make Daelyn realize that her life is worth living? Readers are left not knowing what she will do. This novel is disturbing in that the teen bluntly discusses her desire to kill herself with little to no emotion. She has a plan, and she is eager to carry it out. Also upsetting are the suicide methods that are explicitly detailed on Through-the-Light. However, Santana's presence is welcome, as he softens the unsettling subject matter. This book is definitely worth the read, but for older, more seasoned teens.--Sarah K. Allen, Elko Middle School, Sandston, VA

[Page 121]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

VOYA Reviews 2010 February
The first time Daelyn tried to kill herself she was ten years old. As an obese youngster, she had been bullied and abused by children and adults well into adolescence. Now fifteen, Daelyn's latest attempt at suicide has left her temporarily mute, in a neck brace, and ironically sans her excess weight. Nevertheless after a lifetime of debasement, Daelyn still considers herself fat, ugly, and worthless. So much so, she is never able to share with anyone her deepest, darkest, most humiliating experiences. That is, until she discovered the Web site Through-the-Light. Here Daelyn is not only able to confide her secrets to an audience of like-minded strangers, but she also receives tips and handy how-to instruction on the various methods of suicide. Determined that this next attempt will be her last, Daelyn chooses the minimum timeframe of twenty-three days as her final "Date of Determination"--her last day on earth. Already considered a "loner and a freak" by her classmates, Daelyn has little trouble cutting ties at school, until she is befriended by Santana, a strange, persistent boy who tells her she is mysterious and beautiful. Even though she does everything she can to dissuade him, Santana awakens feelings within her she never knew existed. As such, and with very little time left, Santana proves to be far more of an obstacle than she ever could have anticipated Any teen fortunate enough not to relate to the subject matter should read this book, which turns the old adage, "sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me," on its ear. Powerfully portrayed in the first person, the protagonist's account offers compelling insight into just how spiritually and emotionally devastating bullying can be. The title is intriguing enough that teens may pick it up on their own, but they could find it a tough read as a result of the negative and depressing context. Although some pushing will be required for the uninitiated audience, anyone who has been the victim of this type of abuse will not only readily embrace its contents, but also potentially learn from it.--Judith Brink-Drescher 5Q 3P J S Copyright 2010 Voya Reviews.