Winner of the 2015 Queensland Literary Award for Best Young Adult Novel
I watch the train emerge from the tunnel. It will be quick. It will be efficient. It will be final.
Declan seems to have it all: a family that loves him, friends he’s known for years, a beautiful girlfriend he would go to the ends of the earth for. But there’s something in Declan’s past that just won’t go away, that pokes and scratches at his thoughts when he’s at his most vulnerable. Declan feels as if nothing will take away that pain that he has buried deep inside for so long. So he makes the only decision he thinks he has left: the decision to end it all. Or does he?
As the train approaches and Declan teeters at the edge of the platform, two versions of his life are revealed. In one, Declan watches as his body is destroyed and the lives of those who loved him unravel. In the other, Declan pauses before he jumps. And this makes all the difference. One moment. One pause. One whole new life.
From author of The Shadow Girl, winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards 2012 Prize for Writing for Young Adults, comes a breathtaking new novel that will make you reconsider the road you’re travelling and the tracks you’re leaving behind.
A fresh new wave of books discussing mental illness has washed in this year, and if you are one who wants to dive into this new wave but is easily frightened off by a book that incorporates many themes relating to suicide and depression, I think we’ve just found you the perfect mix.
Like many other books we discover a boy, a boy named Declan; he’s seventeen years old, newly heartbroken and standing on a train station chatting up death. Many parts of me wanted to put this book down once confronted by this very heart-jolting realisation that within the first few pages suicide may be on the cards, but perseverance paid off for both Declan and me.
The thing that sets this book apart is the way John Larkin manages to not make depression and mental illness the protagonist, the one who gets things done and leads the story. However, at the same time he still gets us thinking by letting us glimpse the suicidal thoughts that are an aspect OF Declan but don’t MAKE him. After a close brush with suicide, Declan makes the decision that he’s worth it, that his adorable sister, his long distance relationship and, might I say ‘cool’, parents are worth staying around for. Although still haunted by memories, mostly, left unseen, Declan finds a way to reconcile with these traumatic and heartbreaking experiences and continue on this grand life adventure of his.
Through Declan’s, at times, very real and heartbreaking story we meet his family, his loving girlfriend and ‘interesting’ friends. All of this mixed together gives us the perfect trail mix of love, reality, excitement and adventure without letting one overpower the other three.
If the first few pages dishearten you, stick around because with the lows come the highs with this story and the ending is one that’s definitely worth the journey. This is the perfect book for those who are interested in this genre but are not inclined to spend big money on boxes after boxes of tissues.
Jemma Sbeghen is a freelance reviewer.
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