I think the first thing that I have to say is that any book that gets teenagers to think about mental health issues is a good thing, particularly one that is so unflinching in the way it explores one of the things that scares adults most – suicide.
Sixteen-year-old Anna is a talented artist but since her grandparents died in a car crash caused by a drunk driver she feels detached from those around her. On the surface she seems to be coping, but inwardly her thoughts increasingly turn to suicide.
I found it hard to believe that someone of Anna’s age would attempt suicide five times and nobody would actually recognise there was anything wrong. That aside, I did find myself keen to keep reading and see whether Anna would get the help she so obviously needed.
As well as watching Anna research how to kill herself, we watch how she fails time after time. Her survival instinct is strong, and it’s fairly apparent that she is living with depression. The experience of her Grandmother didn’t come as much as a surprise. We also see Anna coping with a period in treatment/therapy, and feeling fairly positive about the future at the end of the novel.
Ultimately, I felt that the book suffered from trying to cover too many aspects of the issue. I think this is a good starting point, but the issue is far more complex than we are led to believe here.