A moving, poignant, compelling YA debut, as a 15-year-old boy struggles to understand his best friend’s suicide through the list of songs he leaves behind.
Here’s what Sam knows: There was a party. There was a fight. The next morning, his best friend, Hayden, was dead. And all he left Sam was a playlist of songs, and a suicide note: For Sam – listen and you’ll understand.
As he listens to song after song, Sam tries to face up to what happened the night Hayden killed himself. But it’s only by taking out his earbuds and opening his eyes to the people around him that he will finally be able to piece together his best friend’s story. And maybe have a chance to change his own.
Part mystery, part love story, and part coming-of-age tale in the vein of Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Playlist for the Dead is an honest and gut-wrenching first novel about loss, rage, what it feels like to outgrow a friendship that’s always defined you – and the struggle to redefine yourself.
Ok, I have spoken before on LisaTalksAbout.com about the strange trend in YA fiction of writing about suicide; this is the topic of Michelle Falkoff’s debut novel Playlist for the Dead. Unlike other novels that have chosen this subject matter, the actual suicide doesn’t play that big a role. It is more about the devastation for those who are left to pick up the pieces.
In Playlist for the Dead, Sam finds his best friend Hayden, dead. It is confirmed as suicide but there is nothing to indicate why except for a memory stick with a playlist on left to Sam saying that it should make him understand. However, Sam harbours a lot of guilt over Hayden’s death. The night before they had argued and now Sam feels responsible. However, slowly he realises that other people feel the same. A mystery over who is actually responsible for his death starts to unravel and Sam knows that he has to keep hunting for the reason that Hayden killed himself.
Playlist for the Dead is a damn good YA novel; one that I read in one sitting. Michelle Falkoff deals with the different emotions felt – sadness, anger, confusion etc – with sensitivity. She focuses on those that are left to deal with death rather than glorifying the act of suicide. Playlist for the Dead is one of the better YA Fiction novels I have read this year.
Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff is available now.
Follow Michelle Falkoff (@MichelleFalkoff) on Twitter.