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Take 5: Books about suicide

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Take 5: Books about suicide (2015)

All descriptions of these recently published books from the publisher. I’ve reviewed three of them recently (and the other two reviews will be forthcoming), so check out the links for my thoughts on them. It’s interesting that three of the books on this list all came out on the same day. Books about suicide are certainly not a new trend, but the publication of so many titles about this topic so close together is worth noting.


All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Publisher: Random House Children’s Books

Publication date: 1/6/2015

ISBN-13: 9780385755887


Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.


Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff 

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Publication date: 1/27/2015

ISBN-13: 9780062310507


Part mystery, part love story, and part coming-of-age tale in the vein of The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Spectacular Now.

There was a party. There was a fight. The next morning, Sam’s best friend, Hayden, was dead. And all he left Sam was a playlist of songs and a suicide note: For Sam—listen and you’ll understand. To figure out what happened, Sam has to rely on the playlist and his own memory. But the more he listens, the more he realizes that his memory isn’t as reliable as he thought. And it might only be by taking out his earbuds and opening his eyes to the people around him that he’ll finally be able to piece together his best friend’s story. And maybe have a chance to change his own.

Playlist for the Dead is an honest and gut-wrenching first novel about loss, rage, what it feels like to outgrow a friendship that’s always defined you—and the struggle to redefine yourself. But above all, it’s about finding hope when hope seems like the hardest thing to find.

(See my review of this title here.)


The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Publication date: 2/10/2015

ISBN-13: 9780062318473


Since her brother, Tyler, committed suicide, Lex has been trying to keep her grief locked away, and to forget about what happened that night. But as she starts putting her life, her family, and her friendships back together, Lex is haunted by a secret she hasn’t told anyone—a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.

In the tradition of Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why, Gayle Forman’s If I Stay, and Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall,The Last Time We Say Goodbye is a thoughtful and deeply affecting novel that will change the way you look at life and death.

(See my review of this title here, as well as my thoughts on the character’s attitude toward mental health medications here)


My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga 

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Publication date: 2/10/2015

ISBN-13: 9780062324672


Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.

There’s only one problem: she’s not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel’s convinced she’s found her solution—Roman, a teenage boy who’s haunted by a family tragedy, is looking for a partner. Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together.

(See my review of this title here)


When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriguez

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA

Publication date: 2/10/2015

ISBN-13: 9781619634121


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 that is equal parts literary and commercial, 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 fighting for their lives.


If you would like to recommend additional titles on this topic, please leave us a comment. We always look forward to hearing what books others value and recommend.


Some other great posts that detail more books can be found at:

Stacked, “Suicide and Depression in YA: A Discussion and Book List.” 

YA Book Shelf, “Suicide Awareness Week Wrap Up.” 

Jennifer R. Hubbard, “YA Books about Suicide.” 

Editing this to add: Stacked: “The Rise of Suicide in YA Fiction and Exploring Personal Biases in Reading.” 


  1. Funny. You linked to an older post of mine, but I wrote about this very topic on Monday and covered the same 5 books you have here, plus a few additional titles that just came out this year on suicide: http://www.stackedbooks.org/2015/02/the-rise-of-suicide-in-ya-fiction-and.html

  2. Amanda MacGregor Amanda MacGregor says

    I loaded this post about 3 weeks ago, but wish I’d seen your recent post to include it–thanks for mentioning it here (kid’s been sick and I’ve mostly been offline). Weird how so many titles came out at once, right? The new Gayle Forman is up next in my TBR pile.


  1. […] additional recent works that deal with depression, suicide, and mental illness, see this School Library Journal post and this post on Stacked. These are great resources for finding companion pieces to read along with […]

  2. […] additional recent works that deal with depression, suicide, and mental illness, see this School Library Journal post and this post on Stacked. These are great resources for finding companion pieces to read along with […]

  3. […] great information about suicide in YA here. Also check out School Library Journal’s reviews here. If you’re up to wading through the ocean of reviews on Goodreads, there’s no shortage […]

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