Students seem to be drawn to the topic of suicide because for many of them, it hits home somehow. Either they know someone who has committed suicide, or someone who is thinking of it now. Even scarier, some of them are letting the idea roll around in their own heads. For this reason, several authors have decided to take on the challenge of such a sensitive issue and write popular realistic fiction.
Julie Anne Peters, author of "By the Time You Read This I'll Be Dead" writes about the topic from an interesting point of view. In her book, Daelyn, a misfit girl with several failed suicide attempts decides to finally get serious about dying. She becomes a member of a website dedicated to helping teens do the job right and picks her date of death. In the meantime, Daelyn is befriended by a boy with a terminal illness. The struggle of each of these characters, one to die, the other to live, provides the reader with a holistic view of the life of a teenager. The ending is left up to interpretation which alienates some readers, but endears others to the text.
Jay Asher, author of "Thirteen Reasons Why" has yet a different angle on the topic. His story begins with the teen, Hannah, already dead, but having sent out a series of tapes to those she wants to share her story with. As Clay listens to the tapes he hopes Hannah does not blame him for her death. With each tape he hears more of her awful story of bullying and uncaring people unfold. When he finally listens to the tape that speaks his name, he can't believe what he hears. This story makes the reader want to be a better person. It makes the reader aware of how our lives touch each other and that we are responsible for our own choices.
Michael Thomas Ford takes a different approach to the topic in his novel "Suicide Notes." Ford's main character, Jeff, wakes up in a mental institution after a failed suicide attempt. At first Jeff doesn't believe he belongs with the other nut cases and he separates himself from them. Jeff is angry at his parents and his therapist for making him stay in the hospital. While in the hospital Jeff must confront the reasons he wanted to end his life and he must also confront the misery of others. I think Ford's idea here is to show we are never really alone. While this novel is a bit predictable, Ford does cover some tough to talk about topics such as being gay and self mutilation as well as teen suicide.
There are many good choices available when looking for a popular realistic fiction book about teen suicide. Perhaps the best approach is to read more than one and compare the styles. There is no shortage of authors willing to cover this topic nor is there a shortage of teens interested in reading about issues to which they can relate. Enjoy your reading and choose life.