Monday, February 20, 2012

Guest Post : Edgy Content Musing #1 - Suicide in YA/Teen Novels

Edgy Content Musing #1 - Suicide in YA/Teen Novels

It’s been a few months since, I’ve written a literary musing and I got a lovely email forwarded to me saying that they had missed the musings from the residential bloggers “that’s me”, well half of the equation as there are only two of us.
How do I come up with a musing topic? There’s normally two options , Option A) If there is a topic that has arisen in my everyday life or something has sparked my interest and Option B) I have a notebook that I write a list of topics relating to literature that I can elaborate on and write enough about.
One of my favourite genres as readers of my blog The Phantom Paragrapher will know is Edgy Content. This is books that have been written with topics that are either viewed as out of the norm or topics that can cause alot of controversy.

Today’s Literary musing is of Suicide in YA/Teen Novels, this is a topic that for some reason – I have actually read alot about and also combining in this post – will be novels that involve school shootings as in a way they are a part of teenage suicide in novels, as the majority of the time –the killer has ended his/her life also. It may be a bit of a morbid topic, but it is a topic that in today’s society is a big issue and is happening so often –mostly due to bullying etc. I read a sad newspaper article that somebody had posted on the FB page of YA Authors against Bullying of an 8yr old girl who committed suicide due to bullying – 8 years old !!! Come on a person that is far too young.

The reason that Suicide in novels is seen as an Edgy Topic, is that alot of people could blame these teen/ young adult novels for putting the ideas into today’s generation. Each of the books , that I will list , touch on the topics but they do have either A) a moral in the story or B) they are touching novels that will make you cry and think about the consequences of actions etc. Below, will be a list of my Top Ten Novels with a few small sentences about each of them.

1. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult – This was actually the first book for me that I read of Jodi Picoult’s and got me hooked on her writings , it was also the first novel that I had read that touched on the issue of a school shooting. It shows the story of seventeen year old Peter who had endured bullying and had finally enough and went on a shooting rampage towards his bullies. The novel flicks between the incident, what happened to lead Peter to do this and the aftermath of the community.

2. The Pact by Jodi Picoult – This is another novel by Jodi Picoult, this one focuses on what seems like a suicide pact gone wrong. A Gun which held two bullets only – one person Emily is dead with a gunshot to her head, the other Chris is still alive and couldn’t go through with the other bullet on himself. Like Nineteen Minutes, the novel flicks between the incidents, what happened leading up to the night and the consequences and aftermath of the Pact gone wrong between the two families involved.

3. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher – There are thirteen tapes, each one a reason why Hannah Baker killed herself. The tapes turn up on Clay Baker’s porch with a note attached – listen to the tapes and then pass them on down the list. Each person on the list played an impact on Hannah’s life either negative or positive. In each tape she explains to the person how they played a role in her life and at the end of the novel, it will have you in tears as you discover the thirteen reasons why and what Hannah’s life really was like.

4. Impulse by Ellen Hopkins – Author Ellen Hopkins is one of my most favourite authors that touch on Edgy Content, her novels are so raw with passion and emotion and in some parts her books have been banned or herself have been banned from speaking at conferences due to her novels. In Impulse, we meet three teens who had just had enough and all decided to end their lives whether it was by bottle, gun or blades. In this novel, the three teens were unsuccessful and have landed themselves in Aspen Springs Psychiatric Hospital, The novel talks about their lead up to the act and their current situation at the hospital.

5. The Hate List by Jennifer Brown – This would have to be one of the best books that I have read and I recommend it to all to read. It is a school shooting with a different twist. In this novel, the local school has a shooter – teen student Nick who has endured bullying and eventually turns the gun on himself. The novel focuses on the survivors and mainly the girlfriend of the shooter Valerie.

6. Hold Still by Nina LaCour – This novel is about two best friends Caitlin and Ingrid. Caitlin ends up committing suicide and leaving Caitlin behind, she is left to try and pick up the pieces and is wracked with guilt – trying to figure out what went wrong and what happened. We read as Caitlin starts to go towards a downward spiral, pushing everybody away and others are worried that she may follow in Ingrid’s footsteps. We then see Caitlin find Ingrid’s journal and read as she discovers what lead Ingrid to her decision and then the baby steps Caitlin takes in order to move past Ingrid’s death.

7. By the Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead by Julie Ann Peters – Julie Ann Peters is another one of my favourite authors and you will see two of her books “Define Normal” and “Keeping You a Secret” are reviewed on my site. In By the Time You Read This, I’ll be dead follows the story of Daelyn who is sick of being bullied and is counting down the days till she is dead, she then meets a boy named Santana who makes her look again at her decision and whether it really is the right thing to do.

8. Pitch Black: Color Me Lost by Melody Carlson – Even Christian authors can touch on Edgy Content as my favourite Christian author Melody Carlson has proven. Pitch Black is part of her True Colors Series and focuses on Morgan whose life is crazy and tough; her family are the ideal dysfunctional lot. Or so she thought so until her best friend Jason committed suicide, this novel focuses on Morgan re-finding herself and changing her life and discovering what her friend Jason had going on.

9. Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams – In a few ways, I thought that Glimpse reminded me a bit of Impulse by Ellen Hopkins. The first is that like Ellen Hopkins’s is famous for, Carol Lynch Williams has written the novel in verse. The second is that this novel features on two sisters Hope and Lizzie, Hope walks on Lizzie with a gun in her mouth and the hand on the trigger. Lizzie ends up in a psychiatric hospital, Hope discovers Lizzie’s journal and reads what drove Lizzie to suicide and what it has to do with their prostitute mother.

10. To Save A Life by Jim Britts – This last one is a Christian book and has also been made into a film which I own. It follows the life of two friends Roger and Jake until they reach High School, Jake has gone off and become Mr. Popular leaving Roger alone and to become an outcast. During their high school year, Roger commits suicide and it leaves Jake feeling confused and left pondering whether he could have saved his friend? This tragedy causes Jake to take a step back and do something to prevent this from happening again. It is such a touching and inspirational book/film and tissues are needed

• If you have any other novels about this topic that you enjoyed or any suggestions for future musings, feel free to leave a comment or email me at
Paulazone@live.com Signing Off, Till Next Month:Paula@ThePhantomParagrapher


  1. I read the first two Jodi Picoult books on the list and they gave me a lot to think about. I have never been able to understand what would cause someone to kill themselves or go on a rampage at a school, even though I have known people who have taken their own lives. Both books have helped me think about how people in that state of mine could be helped. I just recently read a review of Thirteen Reasons Why and it sounds very interesting.

    Thanks for compliling this list. I think suicide is so tragic and maybe kids could see why it isn't the answer.

  2. Wow ! You sure have done a great effort putting these websites in place. These tools sure are of great help. Damiana


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