By The Time You Read This, I’ll be Dead by Julie Anne Peters was published by Disney-Hyperion on May 17th, 2011. Daelyn Rice is a high school student who has been bullied on multiple occasions. The kids at her school constantly bully her about her size and she has also been a victim of a sexual attack. She has attempted suicide on multiple occasions which have been unsuccessful. Her parents do not leave her alone because they feel that she will attempt suicide again. She finds a website called Through-The-Light that allows her to discuss with other people different ways to die and gives her the opportunity to count down her death date to her next suicide attempt. Daelyn is determined to kill herself and she feels strongly that no one will stop her. As her death date gets closer, she reflects on what has brought her to this point and feels as if this is the only way she has out. Daelyn seems set on her suicide attempt until she meets a boy named Santana. Santana is a very weird young man who seems to take to Daelyn and she has no clue why. He does not mind holding strange conversations with her and ultimately, he wants to be her friend. Santana has his own secret that changes Daelyn’s perspective on her next suicide attempt and also gives her the opportunity to look at life in a different way. The themes and motifs that can be found within the book are self-acceptance, the influence of friendship, bullying, identity, and love.
The text Interpreting Young Adult Literature: Literary Theory in the Secondary Classroom by John Noel More, discusses several literary theories that can be applied to this novel. The Reader- Response theory can be applied to several themes and motifs throughout this book. When applying this theory, the reader has control of how the text is interpreted and the way the text is interpreted depends on what the reader experiences in their own life. The motif the “influence of friendship” can be applied to the relationship that Daelyn and Santana share throughout the book. At the very beginning of the story, Santana does his best to get Daelyn to try to talk to him but she constantly tries to ignore him. She believes that he is like everyone else and she does not want to get hurt or feel stupid for talking to him. The only thing that she is concerned about is making sure that she succeeds at her next suicide attempt. As she gets to know Santana, she finds out that he has been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease and has to constantly fight against death every day. At this point, she does not focus on herself and feels compassion for what he is going through. She realizes that he is fighting against something that she really wants eventually seeing someone has it worse than she she does. Using the acronym DEFT (defense, fantasy, and transformation) created by Norman Holland, the reader would take their own personal experiences and try to relate it to the text (Moore, p.99). With the story of Daelyn and Santana’s friendship, the reader is able to take their experiences and relate it to their own (defense). For example, a reader may think about a person they became friends with who they thought they had nothing in common with. Once they got to know the person, they were able to see who they really were and actually learn from them. Once the reader relates the story to their personal experience, they think about the different scenarios that could have possibly taken place within the novel (fantasy). At the very end of the story, Daelyn ends up telling Santana that she has attempted suicide on several occasions. She is relieved to have someone to share her story with but they do not know know if she and Santana end up dating. The reader has the opportunity to come up with what they think should happen at the end of the story and what would be the best outcome.
By The Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead allows readers to reflect on friendships and open the discussion of teen suicide and bullying. Although Daelyn’s story is fictional, her story is a reflection of the struggles that many teens go through today and gives hope to those who need it.
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Other books written by Julie Anne Peters:
1.Keeping You a Secret
5.Far from Xanadu
6.Between Mom and Jo
7.Lies My Girlfriend Told Me
8. Rage: A Love Story
9.She Loves You, She Loves You Not…
10.It’s Our Prom
11.How Do You Spell Geek?
12.Revenge of the Snob Squad
13.Love Me, Love My Broccoli
14.Romance Of The Snob Squad
15. The Sneaky Sneakers Contest
16.Grl2grl: Short Fictions
17.B.J.’s Billion-Dollar Bet
19.”He was truly listening to what I was saying”: An in-depth look at domestic violence surrogate dialogues