Dead Serious: Breaking the Cycle of Teen Suicide
Author: Jane Mersky Leder
Published: January 23, 2018
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: February 1-10, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
Are you under a lot of stress? Feeling too much pressure to get good grades? Trying to avoid social media because you’re being bullied? Grappling with your sexual/gender identity? Feeling depressed—even suicidal?
What are the reasons why teens decide to take their own lives? What can be done to stop them? Through stories, studies and strategies, Dead Serious helps teens, parents and educators navigate the choppy waters of adolescence and provides tools that can help break the cycle of teen suicide.
Teen suicide is preventable.
Suicide is a difficult subject to think about. The first edition of Dead Serious deals with teen suicide and was published in 1987, and now author Jane Leder has published a second edition. Why a second edition now? In the 30+ years that have passed our world has changed significantly: we all lived through 9/11 and terrorism, bullying is at an extreme, and there was no internet and social media. There is so much more that today’s kids have to deal with that we did not. And don’t forget LGBTQ, there are so many variations on sexual preferences and gender identity that it seems impossible for one to keep up with.
Jane Leder is no stranger to suicide. She has lost several family members to it, including a brother to whom this book is dedicated. Dead Serious is written to teens and it does not talk down to them. It is also for adults and educators. This is one that should be read by all teachers and be in school libraries. This should even be taught in class.
Each story begins with a musical lyrics or similar. There are candid stories throughout the book that are shared, and a variety of subjects that including bullying, and there are also LGBTQ definitions. Leder outdid herself with this second edition as you can see she worked with an abundance of research that includes useful information on where one can seek help from different organizations.
Teen suicide is a major problem, but we can all work together to help stop it. Every life matters, you matter. You ARE worth it.
Dead Serious is highly recommended. Special thanks to the author Jane Leder and her team for sending me a copy to read and review.
City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
Author: Victoria Schwab
Published: August 28, 2018
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
Cassidy Blake’s parents are The Inspecters, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one.
When The Inspecters head to ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland, for their new TV show, Cass—and Jacob—come along. In Scotland, Cass is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an In-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cass isn’t sure about her new mission, but she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn’t belong in her world. Cassidy’s powers will draw her into an epic fight that stretches through the worlds of the living and the dead, in order to save herself.
I really liked Schwab’s Monsters of Verity duology, so when I was looking for a new book, City of Ghosts sounded perfect! But of course, this is me, so naturally, it’s actually not a stand alone, but the beginning of a new series. And do you think the next book is coming soon? Nope! So more waiting . . . Great!
I actually really enjoyed City of Ghosts. The story itself is a little lacking, but not much, and I consider it to be an introduction. I felt like I didn’t get enough information about Cassidy and Jacob. I have an inkling about why Jacob is a ghost and why he is able to “haunt” Cassidy, but it won’t be confirmed until other books come out. Edinburgh was the perfect setting! I know officially want to visit! Thankfully, Ivan also appreciates the macabre so I think it’ll be pretty easy to convince him to go there.
The Raven was absolutely terrifying! She’s the perfect ghostly villain and I can only hope that Schwab gives us more like her in the rest of the series! Overall, this book was really good and I look forward to the rest of the series. Other than creepy content, this book is clean enough for younger teens.
She’s My Dad by Jonathan S. Williams
She’s My Dad: A Father’s Transition and a Son’s Redemption
Author: Jonathan S. Williams (With Paula Stone Williams)
Published: November 8, 2018
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: February 10-17, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
Jonathan S. Williams was three months into pastoring a new, evangelical church plant when his father confessed a secret: he was transgender. His father, Paul, a prominent evangelical pastor, soon became Paula, and Jonathan’s life and ministry went into a tailspin. Feeling betrayed by his mentor and confidante and scared that his church would lose funding and support if Paula’s secret was exposed, Jonathan sunk into depression and alcoholism.
She’s My Dad explores Jonathan’s long and winding journey toward reconciliation, forgiveness, and acceptance of his father as well as his church’s journey to become one of the few fully LGBTQ-inclusive, evangelical churches in America. Jonathan and Paula offer insight and encouragement for those with transgender family members, empathizing with the feelings of loss and trauma and understanding that even being LGBTQ-affirming doesn’t mean the transition of a family member will be easy. Jonathan writes of his family’s continuing evolution, the meaning of remaining loyal to one’s father even when she is no longer a man, the ongoing theological evolution surrounding transgender rights and advocacy in the church, and the unflinching self-scrutiny of a pastor who lost his God only to find God again in his father’s transition.
These are the words that no one expects to hear from a loved one, let alone from a parent to an adult child: “I am transgender”.
She’s my Dad is the memoir of Jonathan S. Williams, whose father Paul ‘came out’ and confessed that secret to his family. She’s my Dad is Jonathan’s story of his shock, dealing with or the lack thereof the situation, and eventual acceptance of Paul becoming Paula. A confession such as this would be a shock in the first place, but what made Paul’s more complicated was both Jonathan and Paul’s occupation: evangelical pastors. Jonathan had also just started a new church plant a few months before Paul’s confession.
When we read transgender stories, we don’t tend to receive a family member’s perspective, just the one undergoing the transition. But it is not just the trans person that goes through transition: it is the whole family as they all have to go through countless changes. Jonathan and Paul’s story is compounded because of their occupations as they have to deal with many more consequences of this confession so Paula can be her true self. Every transition story will be different and important.
Most of the memoir discussed the church. For me, this seemed to drag on for a too long and I found myself skimming over the church mentions. Williams may have been trying to show how much Paula’s transition would affect everyone involved, but so much of it seemed like he was repeating himself. Williams had a very difficult time accepting his father becoming Paula and lamented to an extreme which included drinking. Unlike what many believe, pastors are human and are not perfect.
I did like that we got to also hear from Paula in some chapters in sections called “Paula Responds”. This way we get both sides of the story.
All a person who is undergoing transition wants is acceptance from themselves, their family, and even the church. Hopefully the church can be accepting to those who are transgender: They are people just like us. Think about it: If an evangelical pastor can eventually accept his father for who she actually is, maybe we all can.
She’s my Dad is recommended. I received a copy from Westminster John Knox Press via NetGalley. Thank you for my copy!