Monday, December 19, 2016

Book Review: Teach Me to Forget by Erica M. Chapman

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: December 2, 2016
Publisher: Merit Press
287 Pages

This is the story of Ellery, a girl who learns how to live while waiting for the date she chose to die.

Ellery's bought the gun, made arrangements for her funeral, and even picked the day. A Wednesday. Everything has fallen into place.

Now all she has to do is die.

When her plans go awry and the gun she was going to kill herself with breaks, she does the one thing she has control over--return it and get a new one. After tormenting the crusty customer service associate by trying to return the gun with the wrong receipt, Ellery gets caught by the security guard who also happens to be someone she knows--the annoyingly perfect Colter Sawyer from her English class.

Colter quickly uncovers what she's hiding and is determined to change her mind. After confessing a closely held secret of his own, he promises not to tell hers. Ellery tries to fight her attraction to him as the shadows of her past cling tight around her, but when she's faced with another tragedy, she must decide whether she can learn to live with what she's done or follow through with her plan to die.

I went into this book knowing that it dealt with very harsh subject matter. Depression and suicides are nothing to be taken lightly so I was interested in how Chapman would present this. And while I didn't agree with the actions of certain people in the book, there was a good amount of realism present.

The book opens with Ellery about to kill herself. She has everything planned out - right down to hiring the cleaning service to take care of the mess so her mother doesn't have to. But when the shotgun doesn't go off (the first six times or so of trying), she gets frustrated and goes to return it. Only she doesn't return it to Walmart where they sell guns, but tries to return it at K-Mart. Even with a receipt showing it was purchased and despite her protests that she was just trying to return a defective gun but just got the stores mixed up, Ellery is still an underage girl with a gun. Obviously security takes notice. The security guard just happens to be someone from Ellery's school, and thus begins her relationship with Colter.

I felt that the author portrayed Ellery's pain as a very tangible thing. I saw some other reviews where people complained that Ellery's was too stuck in one moment and her reason for not living was stuck and repetitive. Since we were reading from her point of view, it made sense to me that she would keep reliving the night her life changed. Guilt and grief are two separate terrible things and can eat away at people if they are not dealt with. I think we were supposed to feel frustrated with her because we could see all of the reasons for her to live, but she could not.

I absolutely adored Colter. He sees that something is wrong with Ellery and tries to show her what to live for. Despite the tragedies in his past, he was focused on moving forward and was trying to understand why Ellery couldn't.

There were a couple of issues that I had and they were why I couldn't give this story 5 stars. First was the amount of metaphors the author uses. There were times where I forgot what the sentence was describing because of how many metaphors were being used. There were just too many. This was something I noticed right off the bat and just knew it was going to bother me if it persisted.

The second issue was how other people dealt with Ellery's depression. It's pretty obvious that she was not okay. Even her faking it was bad. But no did anything. I loved Colter, but when you know someone has planned to kill themselves, you tell someone. You try to get that person professional help. There were two suicidal people in this book, both with noticeable tendencies and nobody did anything about either.  When Ellery finds out a classmate is also suicidal, she decides that while she doesn't want him to die, she won't tell anyone because then he might tell her secret and she's also kind of fascinated with how he's going to do it. It was a little disturbing.

This book reminds me a lot of Thirteen Reasons Why in different ways. Suicide awareness is something that needs to be focused on more. I do wish that this book portrayed how to help someone a littler better than just using the love angle, but it was still a powerful book and the ending seemed to be going in that direction.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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