May 6, 2010

Author Guest Review (1) - Tara Kelly

I had this crazy idea of hearing what YA authors have to say about other YA books, specially Unsung YA (as in: not so commercially-popular titles). What better recommendation than one from our beloved authors, right? So I will be doing Author Guest Reviews for books I've really loved.

Harmonic Feedback
This is the first author review and the idea was not totally mine, I saw a great Harmonic Feedback review by Ballads of Suburbia's author Stephanie Kuehnert at Nikki's blog YA Reads a while back (See it here). So one day I was chatting about books with Tara Kelly (Harmonic Feedback's awesome debut author) she mentioned how much she loved this amazing book and I decided she should be my first guest and talk about it. The book was:

By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters
(Goodreads / Amazon)

Tara's thoughts:

I can count on one hand the books that have made me tear up. I'm a very tough reader--it's hard to get an emotional reaction out of me. By The Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters grabbed me by the throat and didn't let go until the last page. This book gives readers an unapologetic view into the mind of a bullied teen, making it a difficult but unforgettable read that will haunt readers long after putting it down.

By The Time You Read This, I'll Be DeadDaelyn has been bullied about her weight since Kindergarten. She remembers every single name she was called. Every incident that happened in vivid detail. To quote Daelyn herself: "I don't know why I can't let the insults go, but I can't. I'm the product of every hurt that's ever been laid on me. Human waste product. Dispose of it." (p 27) After a couple failed suicide attempts, she's desperate to get it right this time. Turn the light out for good. She begins visiting a pro-suicide website called Through The Light where she shares her painful experiences and suicide plans. And her plan is set in stone--right down to the exact day.

Enter Santana. Not the band. The persistent boy who sits with her every day after school. Despite her best efforts to push him away, he slowly burrows his way into her shell and shows her a completely different point of view--one she can't seem to ignore.

While I wasn't suicidal, I was bullied in school--and reading Daelyn's experiences brought back a lot of my own painful memories. Like Daelyn, my experiences played in my head for years--to the point where I made myself invisible and kept everyone at arms length. Peters' portrayal of how bullying affects one's self esteem is painfully realistic and heartbreaking. That being said, there were times I wanted to shake Daelyn and tell her to grow a pair. Fight back. But I also understood that--from her perspective--there was no hope. Life would never get better. In a sense, her meticulously planned suicide was an attempt to gain control over her life. Peters didn't shy away from this to make Daelyn more 'likable' so to speak. She chose the realistic route--and I commend her for that.

I'm just glad hope arrived in the form of Santana--who is probably one of my favorite boy characters of all time. He's unique, funny, charming, and perfectly flawed. I can't think of a more perfect match for Daelyn. Even if their connection wasn't romantic, he's just the friend she needed.

While some may call this book 'too dark', I think it's important that we see just how far bullying can push people. How absolutely destructive and life altering it can be for the person being tormented. And I also think it's important that teen readers--who may be in a dark place themselves--see that there is hope and there are people out there who will understand them. They just may not be the people they'd expect or WANT to understand them.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a gripping read that will hit them right in the gut. But I'll warn you of two things--keep a box of Kleenex nearby and prepare to have a mega-crush on Santana.

Thank you SO much Tara!! I, too, absolutely LOVED this book. See my review of By The Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead here. Check out Tara's book Harmonic Feedback that will be available on May 25th, and my review of it coming next week. Hint: LOVE!


  1. I've been looking forward to reading this book since it came out. I love Julie Anne Peters.
    I've heard so many great things about Harmonic Feedback. I can't wait to read it! :]

  2. Wow, that does sound intense. And Robby, I've READ HF, and it is fabulous.

  3. This book looks excellent. I like books that don't soften experience to make it easier to sell. I also like the idea that the kind of love a person gets from a friend may be way more important than a stereotypical romance. And, being deeply flawed myself, I like flawed characters. ; ) Great review Tara.

    And spread the word: Read Tara's book Harmonic Feedback. Just do.


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