The Survival List // Book Review

 About The Book
From author Courtney Sheinmel comes an emotional, page-turning novel about the bonds of sisterhood, the imprecision of memory, and the incomparable value of finding something to live for. Fans of I Was Here by Gayle Forman and Far from the Tree by Robin Benway will be floored by this heartbreaking yet uplifting teen novel about a grieving girl who follows a mysterious list across the country after her older sister’s death.

My Rating

I’m going to be completely honest, and admit that when I think back on this book, I could barely remember it. So that should speak for itself. The book follows Sloane as she struggles to cope with her older sister Talley’s suicide. Once Sloane finds a mysterious list that Talley left behind, she is hell-bent on figuring out what it means. She thinks that the list holds all the answers to why her sister chose to the take her own life.

The book shows Sloane going through a lot of guilt over Talley’s death, believing that she could have prevented her sister’s suicide. This made her very obsessed with the list. I haven’t experienced what Sloane was going through, but I found that her obsession with finding a reason behind her sisters death unhealthy.

In the book, the list takes Sloane to California, where she reconnects with her estranged aunt. And where she meets a boy named Adam, who might be a piece to the puzzle that is her sister.  But the thing is, suicide doesn’t always have an answer. It isn’t always so black and white. I wanted Sloane to give in to her grief, and try to start healing. She needed to start focusing on keeping her sister’s memory alive, instead of chasing her ghost.

Sloane’s aunt didn’t add much to the story, but gave Sloane new insight to  her sister, as well as her mother. As for Adam, him and Sloane’s friendship felt random and cringy. Honestly, I didn’t like how Sloane would lash out at him for keeping secrets. He barely even knew her, but she excepted him to be an open book. I get that she was lashing out because of grief, but he didn’t owe her anything.

Personally, all the characters in the book fell short, since they were bland. Not one of them stood out to me. Except perhaps Sloane’s best friend, but only because her name was Juno. Also, the book had very weird wording that was a bit on the juvenile side. I am a big YA fan but the author was trying way to hard using phrases such as ‘shit slammer’ and ‘up in my grill.’

“When you try to keep a secret, even if you convinced yourself that it’s for someone else’s own good, it often backfires.”

There was a twist at the end that some people might find offensive. Specifically people that know firsthand the difficulty of having cancer. It was a very unique twist that I found unsettling and wrong. It seemed as though the book was trying to create a reason behind suicide. As if it ran in families. Sometimes that might be the case, but most of the time, there’s no reason to why someone takes their life. Or, at least, you will never truly know why they made such a choice.

You never really know someone, even if they’re family. In the end, we are all fighting our own battles, and depression doesn’t discriminate. The smartest person, with a happy life, could actually be the one that’s hurting most of all. The fact remains that suicide doesn’t end the pain, it just passes it on to someone else.

It was nice that the author made it a priority to mention that the people you get close to will change your life forever. Even after they have passed on. People always leave their mark on the hearts they touch. I did find it funny that the book stated the whole ‘don’t ask permission, but ask forgiveness’ opinion. Because I know first hand, that isn’t true. Don’t believe me? Ask my mom.

Overall, the book was about showing the aftermath of suicide, and how it effects the people you leave behind. However, the story didn’t pack that emotional punch that it needed to make me feel something. I found myself to be pretty bored throughout the book, and I didn’t shed a tear. Still, it was interesting to learn that suicide is illegal in Minnesota. Yet, I don’t know if that still the case today. Remember to research all the trigger warnings for the book, but a few of them are suicide, underage drinking, depression, and overdose.

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Until The Next Chapter,