Help Me!: Once I slice… -Book Review
This book hit home in a very real way. My son is months from being an eighth grader and most of his friends are or will be 13 soon. Despite them all being in a great and pro-active school district, everyone of them has a story about how a schoolyard bully has affected their lives and how that bullying has followed them home on social media and texting.
So few of us realize just how fragile a child’s psyche can be. Watching a beautiful, brilliant child fall to depression, anxiety and despair, is heartbreaking for a parent. Still, there can be few horrors worse than finding out that your child wants to not be alive or worse has attempted to make that happen. Parents look back at the little clues that only have significance in hindsight and when taken as a whole and they can only be horrified at missing it.
We live in a world where there are no more time outs. Our tweens, teens and young adults, are plugged directly into the world and deal with their peers in real time. Through their phones and computers they live a world of constant feedback and because of the impersonal nature of those interactions, they often don’t realize the damage being inflicted.
The concept of cyber-bullying came home to my family in a very real way when a child my son had issues with at school, tracked down his you tube channel to leave some fairly evil comments. Although we had dealt with inappropriate comments on his blog posts before, this really hit hard. This was a child we knew. This was a child in the fifth grade who, emboldened by the anonymity of a computer keyboard, felt comfortable using obscene language and hateful labels. Sadly, much like the bullies in the book, simply deleting and blocking didn’t work as , over time, the child simply created new accounts and the mean comments escalated to violent threats. My son had just been through an assembly on bullying and he had been given some hairy statistics. He wasn’t expecting to become one of them. Children, babies to my mind, as young as fourth and fifth grade were dying because they couldn’t face the bullies that followed them home from school into their phones and computers. My son had a great idea and contacted someone he has interviewed on our local police force. He put us in touch with an officer who works with at risk kids in our school district who was more than happy to explain what bullying is, how to deal with and when kids and even adults, should be bringing it to the attention of authorities. It breaks my heart that my ten year old felt the need to do this particular interview. Or rather it breaks my heart that that information needed to be out there, still needs to be out there, in hands of our children.
Help Me!: Once I slice, it relieves so much pressure, I can breathe again… / Donna M. Zadunajsky
Genre: Teen Fiction
Date of publish: January 2016
Recommended Ages: 12–18
Help Me is the story of Mick and Layla. Mick is fairly typical 13 year old eighth grader, but he is carrying a lot on his young shoulders. He has been bullied, perhaps because he was overweight or because his best friend was gay. His friend, not able to deal with the constant bullying, took his own life. Mick, now has to deal with the guilt that maybe he could have done something to stop that from happening, the frustration that those who drove his friend to the edge will not be held accountable for their actions and really don’t care that they played any part in his death and he also has to face that a new school, while it removed him from the worst of his tormentors, has bullies to take their place with a whole new list of reasons why they pick on him. His life has become a cycle of posting sad poetry online, clinging to the one or two good friends that he has, and using cutting as a release valve to keep his depression at bay and as a way to give himself some measure of control over his feelings.
Layla is a typical 13 year old eighth grade girl, who finds that peer pressure makes her do things and act in way that can hurt the people she cares about. She sees that Mick is in a dark place, but she has no idea what to do or what to say or even she if should do or say anything. She has a strong enough relationship with her mother to mention his odd behavior and ask for advice, but even then she doesn’t want to betray her friend and doesn’t give her mom the scariest information she has. In the end her friendship with Mick could be the only thing that can save his life.
This is a short powerful read, told from the perspective of each young person. The blunt honesty from each of them is to be admired. These kids were dealing with problems too big for them and they just didn’t know what to do. How many adults don’t have the life skills to handle what these kids had going? Mick’s parents are not bad parents because they missed what was happening. Mick’s need to find some control over the darkness he felt made him hide the worst of it from everyone he could. He knew what he was doing was wrong but it was the only thing that helped and he just didn’t know how to ask for help. Or, Maybe he didn’t know that he COULD ask for help.
It is fantastic that Layla felt comfortable with talking to her mom. Her mom defied the trending “not my kid, not my problem” attitude so prevalent today and did something with the information given to her. The school officials acted on the information immediately. This story provided many great examples of how the situation should be handled. However, as is so often the case, it may have just been too late. This novella should be required reading for eighth grade health classes, putting information in the hands of those who can make a difference before it is too late to help. When a child takes his or her own life, the devastation lives on in hearts of every friend and every teacher and counselor who saw something a bit off but didn’t want to overreact.
As a parent of child this age I can see the usefulness of using this as a discussion starter. Communication is the key. Recovery isn’t an easy thing, but knowing that you aren’t alone in how you feel and that what you feel is real and justified is the first step to getting better.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
I am including information here from the forward of the book:
If you or someone you know needs guidance with what they’re feeling or going through, and you don’t want to talk to an adult in your household or an adult at your school, then I suggest turning to these websites for help. They are very resourceful and are there to help you understand and cope with depression and suicidal thoughts.
You can also call the numbers listed here when you’re ready to get help,
-Donna M. Zadunajsky. HELP ME! (Kindle Locations 92–104).
Goodreads Summary: A novella about a boy named Mick and his struggles with life. His parent’s divorce and a friend’s suicide make his world unbearable. Each “cut” has a deeper meaning. A cry for help.
“I spin my dad’s Ruger SP101 revolver on the wood floor of my bedroom. Sometimes, just to see what it feels like, I place the tip of the gun against my temple, but I never once pull the trigger. NO!”
“I’m more into the slice of the blade against my skin and the blood running down my arm.”
“It relieves so much pressure.”
“And I can breathe again…”
About The Author:
Donna Zadunajsky was born and raised in Bristolville, Ohio, and resides in Illinois. She’s written seven children’s books that are about her daughter, and all the adventures that she’s done in her young life. They’re currently on the Barnes and Noble and Amazon, and at www.littletscorner.com., available in eBook and paperback.
She spends her time writing short stories as well as novels. She published her first novel, “BROKEN PROMISES,” June 2012, second novel, “NOT FORGOTTEN”, and recently her third novel, FAMILY SECRETS, “Secrets and Second Chances, Book 1”.
Besides writing, she enjoys spending time with her fourteen-year-old daughter and husband, their two dogs and two cats. She enjoys reading, working on crafts. and scrapbooking. She graduated from The Institute of Children’s Literature, in spring 2011.