Author: Leila Sales
Rating: 2.5 / 5 stars
I feel guilty for rating a book about a girl who tries to commit suicide so slow, but let's be honest. Unlike Elise, I try to be myself. I don't try to mold myself into what I think others will like me for. I think that is my fundamental issue with this book.
I wasn't popular in middle school or high school. I had my small band of friends, and we were much more into going bowling or getting in line for the midnight release of Harry Potter than going to keggers or sneaking into clubs or really partying at all. I, like Elise (who I almost instantly bonded with because of our shared name), did not have the best of time in middle school or high school. I had my moments when I thought, "I wonder, would anyone notice if I disappeared? Would anyone care?" But I thankfully never had to deal with suicidal thoughts. So perhaps my issue is that I can't relate with Elise because I never fell that far down the rabbit hole and had to try to climb back up. While I had a few friends/acquaintances who admitted to me that they had cut themselves once upon a time (and probably a few who never said so), I was never in that position myself. But what really helped me through school was that I realized it was only 3 years(middle school)/4 years(high school) of my life, and then it would be open. There would be no more prom kings and queens, and no bullies. So I decided that I didn't care what people thought about me, because they weren't people whose opinion I would want anyway. And that's the difference between Elise and I.
Elise is desperate for attention. But she has two friends who sit with her at lunch that she, more often than not, completely disregards. When they try to engage with her and be her friend, she tells them she has plans. They make an effort to try to include her, and she would rather wallow in her self pity that the right people haven't noticed her yet. To me, that made Elise very difficult to like. She's the exact person that she despises, the people that have ignored her and put her down her entire life. And what she does to her litter sister towards the end of the novel? Are you kidding me? It's like watching the kids steal her iPod, except she is the bully this time. That scene completely appalled me.
Now, perhaps I could have gotten past Elise's character flaws, if it hadn't been for the plot. I realize this is a YA novel, but it felt too far off into wish fulfillment realm for me to consider to ever be possible. Overnight, this 16 year-old becomes a DJ sensation, just because she tries? My husband has been dabbling with the turn tables for years, and I've watched him, and I don't buy that for a minute. Also, who would let a 16-year-old play in a bar? The legal liability/issues alone would be enough to scare away any business person (although, I guess if you are throwing ragers in an abandoned warehouse, you aren't going to be too strict). And the fact that her parents aren't more upset with her?
On the surface, it's a good coming of age novel. If you don't look to closely at the details, it can be a heartfelt, entertaining read. But as someone who has had to overcome diversity and self doubt for the majority of my life, I think Elise got off easy. Perhaps I'm just jealous. Who knows.