Jeremy is trying to talk Melody into jumping off the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Florida at the opening of this look at both what motivates someone to suicide and how people cope with the aftermath of a failed attempt.
Mel’s first-person narration plunges readers into the action before flashing back to explore the excruciating pain that leads Jeremy to contemplate suicide. Cutting back and forth between past and present, Mel struggles with her guilt at not being able to talk him out of it and the agonizing possibility that she led him into thinking they could go together. They connected a few months earlier at a party, her nickname Death Wish (earned after a fumbled attempt to take too many Tylenols) making Jeremy feel he’s found a fellow traveler. Mel may have thought they were joking about suicide, but Jeremy, suffering from survivor guilt after the death of his younger brother while he was in charge, is definitely not. In a related subplot, Mel’s mother’s activism against the death penalty and Mel’s familiarity with the issues surrounding death row widen the book’s thematic focus without falling into proselytizing. While readers learn early on that Jeremy has survived, they will find the ways each teen views and handles death to be compellingly presented. The dialogue sometimes sounds off, clearly written in the service of Stevenson’s themes rather than character development.
Dialogue bobbles aside, commendably on topic. (Fiction. 12-16)