Teach Me to Forget by Erica M. Chapman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Ellery, a high school student, has a plan. Not a plan for after graduation, or for prom, or even how to pass her next exam. Ellery's plan is how she's going to kill herself. But when Ellery's plan fails, she finds herself at the local Kmart, trying to return the gun that foiled her suicide attempt. There she is confronted by the store security guard, a student in her English class. Colter Sawyer appears to be everything Ellery is not: namely, happy. But Colter has some skeletons in his past, as well, and he quickly deduces Ellery's plans. He gives Ellery an ultimatum: if she can hang on until Halloween, he won't reveal her intentions to anyone else. As Ellery tries to hide her depression from Colter, she also finds herself surprised to have a friend--and discovers herself potentially falling in love with Colter. But is love enough to save her from herself?
This novel starts with a line that immediately grabs your attention and it does a pretty good job of keeping it throughout. It's a quick read, but a heartbreaking one. The pain these teenagers are in is horrific, but overall Chapman does a fairly good job of capturing their real emotion. Your heart will hurt that these teens are dealing with such burdens in their lives.
Overall, I was mostly impressed with the realism in this novel; it truly captures why Ellery would want to kill herself, as well as her friend Dean, another mentally ill kid she meets at school. It is a pretty accurate portrayal overall of depression, and this comes from someone who has lost someone they loved to suicide and who suffers from depression. This book is certainly a good learning experience for those dealing with depression (and especially for those who love them), but it could be a trigger to those dealing with suicidal thoughts. Please keep that in mind.
While reading, I was initially annoyed because I thought this would be a "love can triumph over true depression" but the novel becomes more realistic as time passes. I also almost didn't give the book 4 stars as it seemed a bit of a "straw book": the characters and emotions are there, but I felt it lacked a bit of the depth of a Rowell or Jennifer Niven's latest. Still, it contains such an important message, and I felt so strongly for Ellery and Colter by the end, that 4 stars seemed warranted. There's a depth in feeling in dear Ellery that cannot be ignored. (Also, there should be more Colters in the world.)
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher and Edelweiss (thank you!) in return for an unbiased review; it is available everywhere as of 12/2/2016.
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