Published on: November 3rd 2015
Published by: Sourcebooks
Genre: YA Contemporary
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(summary from Goodreads)
A suicide pact was supposed to keep them together, but a broken promise tore them apart.
Allie is devastated when her older sister commits suicide – and not just because she misses her. Allie feels betrayed. The two made a pact that they’d always be together, in life, and in death, but Leah broke her promise and Allie needs to know why.
Her parents hover. Her friends try to support her. And Nick, sweet Nick, keeps calling and flirting. Their sympathy only intensifies her grief.
But the more she clings to Leah, the more secrets surface. Allie’s not sure which is more distressing: discovering the truth behind her sister’s death or facing her new reality without her.
I have been reading a lot of dystopian lately, so it was nice to read something ‘real world’ and you don’t get anymore real then suicide pacts, death and depression. This book was hard at times but wow was it incredible.
Allie is a character that you can’t help but feel for. She is a total mess in this book, devastated by the loss of her sister but hurt and confused as to why her sister would break their pact and leave her behind and all alone. The idea of a suicide pact is horrific but one that I have read about before in My Heart and Other Black Holes and so I was intrigued to see another take on such a serious and sad topic. Allie really struggles in this book making wrong decision after wrong decision and it is hard to see her in so much pain unable to pull herself out.
“I’m not sure I can keep this up. I’m not sure I can give her life. It may be hard to be dead, but it’s also hard to be the one that lives.”
The book is totally from Allie’s POV which was the perfect way to write it because there were no other characters in this book who would have been able to give anything more to the story we were being told. Allie’s main mission in this book is to get answers, she wants to know why her sister killed herself, she wants to know why she broke the pact, she wants to know why she has been left behind. She thinks that discovering these things about her sister will give her closure, but it also leads to her discovering a lot about herself too which in my opinion gives her more closure then getting answers about Leah could ever give her.
“I’m living my life in tiny squares. Checkerboard moves. Each play means something. Each turn matters. The most important thing is to keep moving. To not get jumped.”
I felt like Allie didn’t get nearly enough help in this book. It seemed like a lot of the time everyone was just offering her pills. Her doctor, her mum, the school drug dealer… even people in school advised her that taking some pills could help her out of the ‘rut’ she found herself in. This girls sister has just killed herself by taking an overdose so WHY did everyone think that giving this grieving girl pills would help matter any?! It seemed wrong and I struggled to find the realism in it. However there is also a lot that is very real in this book. We see suicide for the ugly thing that it is and Remey does a beautiful job of writing it without glorifying it or adding drama just for drama sake.
“My whole body is screaming with pain. Not just my heart or my head. I am a mess of heartbreak. Raw and raging and out of control.”
The secondary characters in this book make me conflicted as it felt like at times they were doing more harm than good and helping Allie’s destructiveness to spiral even further out of control. The ex (and Allie’s big crush) who is a total jerk and leads Allie on throughout the story, the best friend who also turns out to not be as great a friend as she makes out to be, the new love interest who is extremely judgemental. It felt a bit mean really for Ramey to have written the people who should be the ones to help Allie be the ones who actually make situations worse, but then teenagers fail each other a lot. So it seemed to add to the realism of the story, but also made us feel all the more frustrated for Allie and the lack of support that she seemed to have in her life.
“I don’t even know how to think for myself. I realise I’ve only been the negative space in Leah’s life this whole time. I have to stop. My life deserves a canvas and I get to paint it.”
One thing I really liked was the lack of a romance story line. (Say WHAT?!) There was romance there but it was nothing as major as I initially thought it was going to be. I didn’t want some guy swooping in and saving Allie, I wanted her to do it herself, and although Nick is supportive he is not the big hero/knight in shining armor and I was very happy about that.
“I reach inside for the colours that are really me. The colours of sea glass, the ocean, of freedom and beauty. It’s better but not perfect. Something’s still missing.”
I can’t lie, there were times when it all got a little confusing. Between dreams, flashbacks during therapy sessions, drug induced hallucinations and real life it sometimes all kind of merged into one and at times I didn’t know where I was. But then in a way I felt like maybe that was the way we were supposed to feel, as that was how Allie was feeling through the majority of the book, and the separation between these things does become clearly as the story progresses and Allie starts to see things clearer too.
“I’ve got nothing. She’s gone.
I let the pain hit me, invite it in. It floods my body and makes me to heavy to move. I cry until I fall asleep.”
Art is a big theme in this book and I really liked the way that Allie see’s the people in her life as different colours and it gave a really unique perspective of the world. Art is the way that Allie expresses herself and after Leah’s death she struggles to fit in with her old style of painting and is at times shocked by the new artwork she creates. The process of her painting was described so vividly that I could imagine every single paintbrush stroke, but I was also desperate for some beautiful images (maybe in the back of the book) to add to the story. I know that other authors have done this in the past and it has worked incredible well and added a whole new aspect to their book.
“The colours from my better past surround me till I’m safe and happy and I can let go for a little while.”
There have been a number of ‘suicide books’ released this year, many of them dealing with the ‘pre-suicide’ and the feelings/experiences that have lead our characters to have the suicidal thoughts. In this book the suicide has already happened, and although Allie spends a lot of the book trying to figure out exactly what it was that made her sister take her own life, it is more about the after effects of the suicide and how our characters cope.
“I think about the choices in front of me. Pills or pain? Art of life?”
This book can be heavy at times and it deals with a lot of serious topics, but I wouldn’t say that it was a hard book to read in the slightest. Once I got started with it I couldn’t put it down and I stuck with Allie through all the bad times waiting and wishing for the good times. For her debut Ramey has written something spectacular and should be extremely proud of herself and her book.