Published by Bloomsbury Children's on February 10th, 2015
Genres: contemporary, young adult
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13 Reasons Why meets the poetry of Emily Dickinson in this gripping debut novel perfect for fans of Sara Zarr or Jennifer Brown.
A Goth girl with an attitude problem, Elizabeth Davis must learn to control her anger before it destroys her. Emily Delgado appears to be a smart, sweet girl, with a normal life, but as depression clutches at her, she struggles to feel normal. Both girls are in Ms. Diaz’s English class, where they connect to the words of Emily Dickinson. Both are hovering on the edge of an emotional precipice. One of them will attempt suicide. And with Dickinson’s poetry as their guide, both girls must conquer their personal demons to ever be happy.
In an emotionally taut novel with a richly diverse cast of characters, readers will relish in the poetry of Emily Dickinson and be completely swept up in the turmoil of two girls grappling with demons beyond their control.
Depression. It’s an illness I have a close association with as a sufferer. I didn’t know what reading about this in a book would be like. Whether it would be too tough for me, or if I would be able to relate to it. I wasn’t sure whether I would be able to do it, but I sure wanted to try. When Reason Breaks was pretty much nothing like I expected it to be. In fact, I’m still having a hard time determining if I even liked it at all. It was very easy to read and the characters were well-developed, but somehow I always felt as if they were keeping me at a distance. The writing was a bit detached for me. And for a book about serious topics, it never made me feel very emotional in any way. There are two girls: Elizabeth and Emily. Elizabeth is a Goth girl who has anger issues. She has a best friend who has serious feelings for her, but Elizabeth thinks she is too damaged to commit to anyone. And then there is Emily. Emily is the Latina daughter of a father who is a public official. Her family has high expectations of her and Emily is always paranoid she is going to mess up. Emily is also severely depressed. Both girls connect to Emily Dickinson’s poetry in English class taught by Ms. Diaz, a teacher who cares deeply about her students. One of these girls attempts suicide. So here’s the thing: There’s quite a bit of romance in this book, and while that’s all well and fine and normal in teen life, I didn’t think it fit well with the story here. I felt like the book was trying to do too much, and I wish it was just a book about teen depression and suicide. Because I do think that’s why I had trouble connecting. There was not enough time spent on any one topic; instead it jumped around a lot and felt disjointed and I wanted to know more about what having depression was like. And as a sufferer, the stuff it did do was good, but I don’t think it got nearly close enough to covering how crushing and stifling it can really be for a person. I wanted to connect with Emily more than I did. I actually liked Elizabeth a lot more. Though it doesn’t really matter if I like a character–I still felt like I knew who she was more and was able to anticipate her actions. Therefore, the ending wasn’t much of a surprise for me. I saw it coming. I liked what it did thematically though. View Spoiler »The girl society expects to attempt suicide (Goth girl) is not the one who actually does. « Hide Spoiler I think I can recommend When Reason Breaks. It’s not like it wasn’t enjoyable to a degree–I just expected more from it. I wanted to feel things, and it didn’t really do that for me at all. And for a book on such serious topics, it should have. I wanted more depth, so I will be looking for that book that covers these issues and breaks my heart. This was an enjoyable way to spend a day, but I don’t think this one will end up being memorable, sadly.