Thursday, November 15, 2012

0 A Suicide's Bucket List: Carolee Dean and Ally Cassell from FORGET ME NOT

A Suicide's Bucket List

by Ally Cassell (via Carolee Dean)

What happens to
your Bucket List
if you're a suicide?

What if you botch
the job and get
a second
chance at life?

Do you get the
to follow
your desires.

Or should you
just be glad
that you've

My name is Ally Cassell and that's the kind of weird stuff I've been writing in my journal ever since I got trapped on the H hall of Raven Valley High School.

My body's in a coma down at County General but my spirit is stuck here on the hallway with the ghosts of four other suicides, Rotceo, Julie Ann, Little Sister, and the Hangman who loves to torment us all with word games.

If you try to buy a vowel, there's no telling what it will cost you.

I have two choices now. I can stay here in the "safety" of the hallway, watching out the window, day after day, observing the other students who still have lives, or I can back to my old life and walk through the pain I couldn't face before.

That's a tough decision when compromising photos of me are still circulating around the school. Nobody's asking who the two guys are in the pictures. All people care about is how much of me they can see.

"It's a nasty double standard." That's what Darla told me. I thought she and Davis had broken up. That's what started all the trouble.

I'd die if my father
ever saw those texts.
He'd have a heart attack.
Then again,
I'm half dead now.
As for my mother,
she left
when I was twelve
and never once
looked back.

The other girls warned me not to cross Darla and challenge her for the lead in My Fair Lady. She got the part of Eliza, of course. She's a senior and I'm a lowly freshman, but she never forgets when someone tries to take what rightfully belongs to her.

"You'll have lots of other opportunities,"
the drama teacher told me.
She had no idea
I might be dead by sixteen.
Pushed to the edge
by the homecoming queen.

I guess there were some things I wanted to do before I checked out. I never used to think about things like a bucket list, but now thinking is all I can do.

The list wouldn't be long.

It would have been nice to land the lead in the high school musical at least once, and I would have liked to have had a chance to go to homecoming with a boy I actually liked.

It was Darla who suggested Will take me. Everyone knows he's a disgusting brute, but I wanted to make Davis jealous. That's not quite the way it turned out.

Darla had other
plans for the night.
Number one on her list
was destroying my life.

Has Elijah seen the pictures? I wonder if he's heard. Even if he has, I know he wouldn't say a word.

Elijah was the first boy I ever kissed. We kind of lost touch after his brother died. He went off the deep end, took a bottle of sleeping pills, spent some time in a psychiatric hospital, then came back speaking in iambic pentameter for a month.

If I actually get a second chance at life, the first thing on my list will be thanking Elijah for trying to show me a way out of here. He spent some time on this hallway. He says I have to go back up on the roof of Brady Theater where it all went down and face my demons, but I'm not sure I can do that. He thinks I can, but I'm not convinced.

COULD I? (from page 328-329 of Forget Me Not)

Could I really
go up there again?

Could I face my pain,
then click my
heels like Dorothy,
say, "There's no
place like home,"
and wake up
from this nightmare?

Could I
just slip back in
as quickly as I
slipped out?
What would it take?

Could I
close my eyes,
open them again, and find
myself back in the hospital room?
What if I never walk again
or talk again?

It would be a long road back.
So many things broken.
Elijah would help me.
And Oscar. And Nana.
And Dad.

Maybe Elijah is right.
Maybe just one or two
people are enough
to help you make it
through the darkness.

Could I

really believe that?

* * * *

Carolee Dean is a speech-language pathologist as well as a young adult author.  She has been a featured speaker at several national and local conferences for educators. 

In her novel Take Me There, she examines the death penalty from the point of view of a teenage boy who journeys to Texas to find his estranged father. In Forget Me Not she examines cyber-bullying and suicide. For more information about Carolee and her books, visit her blog at caroleedeanbooks.blogspot 

She has a monthly newsletter focused on helping educators build lifelong readers. Past issues may be found at spellbindersbooksnews.blogspot.  Follow her on Twitter @CaroleeJDean

Forget Me Not

by Carolee Dean

From the author of Take Me There, a fast-paced novel in verse about a girl caught between life and death—and the boy who will do anything to save her.
Ally is devastated when a scandalous photo of her is texted around school. With her reputation in shambles and her life essentially over, she hides out in a back hallway, trying to figure out where everything went wrong.      Elijah has spent time in that hallway too. He landed there after taking a whole bottle of sleeping pills. Now he can see ghosts, and he knows what Ally has yet to suspect—that she’s already half dead, and one choice away from never coming back. Elijah has loved Ally for years and would do anything to save her from the in-between place. But if she’s going to live, Ally must face her inner demons and find the will to save herself.     Told in interwoven verse narratives, this crushingly honest and poetic exploration of pain and redemption will appeal to fans of Ellen Hopkins.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Forget Me Not?

This story is very close to my heart. It was inspired by a tragedy that happened when I was in the seventh grade. One of my classmates hung himself. Ever since then there has been a question that has haunted me. "What happens to the soul after suicide?" Often when I write a book I start out with a question like this. The scary part is that I don't usually know the answer when I begin writing. It is the writing process that helps me tackle difficult questions. The answers I come up with are very personal to me, so I'm thrilled when I do find something that makes sense to me. That is my favorite thing about this book, and about writing in general. Also, I'm happy that in spite of the very deep subject matter, I was able to have a lot of fun with this story. That also helped the healing process. I based the set up of the Raven Valley High School on Dante's Inferno, I have allusions to many famous authors and poets, and I did a lot of exploring of raven mythology. All these things helped making the book much more than just a problem novel exploring a very difficult issue. I must add that there is a happy ending... but not for everyone.
Order Forget Me Not on Amazon View Forget Me Not on Goodreads

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