Book Review: By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead

Title: By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead
Author: Julie Anne Peters
Genre: Young Adult / Juvenile Fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5
Warning: Spoiler alert

The title of the book speaks for itself: it is a story of a suicide.

This is a story about fifteen-year-old Daelyn Rice, a girl tormented from bullying virtually all the years of her life. Her failed suicide attempt rendered her mute and unable to eat solid food, and now, she is on 24-hour suicide watch. 

Despite the close guidance of her parents, she is determined to die successfully this time. She stumbled upon a suicide forum called, which gives her open and honest guides on her options to go, a countdown of her "date of determination," and anonymity in posting in forums. In through-the-light, Daelyn finds solace in purging her painful past—of bullying and abuse that started at a very tender age.

Daelyn has 23 days to live—23 days to prepare for her suicide. As the days count down to her death, she meets a geeky and socially inept boy named Santana who, in spite of Daelyn's silence and social isolation, persists in befriending her. Santana and Daelyn eventually form a bond, and Santana reveals to Daelyn a secret that leads her to question her decision to take her own life.

By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead is a book that I recommend to everyone to raise awareness on mental health—whether you're struggling with suicidal thoughts or otherwise. The book covers a broad range of very sensitive and taboo topics, openly giving the grisly and provoking details about depression, bullying, and suicide.

Of all the books that I read about mental illness and suicide, this is the best I've come across to. It's a short read, only 200+ pages long, with handy information sheets about depression, bullying, and suicide at the last few pages.

Julie Anne Peters wrote a poignant tale of a deeply wounded girl, beautifully written in a prose that is easily understood—no frills and fancy words, just simple and downright honest about the thoughts of a person who is severely depressed and suicidal. 

From the very first chapter, you can feel Daelyn's despair, of how hopeless she is, that the only way out is for her to die. As the book progresses, you go deeper to her mind and be drawn to her dark past. Her desperation to die is somewhat brought to a lighter note by Santana's awkward social advances and his endearing humor and personality.

The ending brought a mix of emotions to me. As I flipped through the last page of the book, I was at peace, believing that Daelyn didn't commit suicide; rather, she chose to "kill" her past and be reborn to a new her. 

Spoiler Alert and Final Words

The narration of her last visit to through-the-light gave me the idea that her deleting the account was a sign of her coming at terms of her past, that it is where her date of determination ends. Her pondering of hoping for Santana to get a dog on his birthday gave me the impression that she went to his party, as opposed to her original plan of skipping school and going home to drown. Emily was also a vital character in the story, in that her friendship with Daelyn serves as a symbol of hope for both of them.

This is not so much as a "trigger book" for the suicidal, but a book that gives hope and a better perspective about life in spite of all the darkness. It does not promote suicide as well; rather, the thought-provoking questions from the book make you think twice about how you see life and death.

I love this book so much, I can read again and again. :) 


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