WHAT I LEAVE BEHIND by Alison McGhee, 5 star review
May 16th, 2018 by Liza Wiemer


by Alison McGhee

Where to buy it: IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble |  Book Depository


This novel has received 3 starred reviews! 

Thank you @simonteen for my review copy!

From Goodreads:

After his dad commits suicide, Will tries to overcome his own misery by secretly helping the people around him in this story made up of one hundred chapters of one hundred words each.

Sixteen-year-old Will spends most of his days the same way: Working at the Dollar Only store, trying to replicate his late father’s famous cornbread recipe, and walking the streets of Los Angeles. Will started walking after his father committed suicide, and three years later he hasn’t stopped. But there are some places Will can’t walk by: The blessings store with the chest of 100 Chinese blessings in the back, the bridge on Fourth Street where his father died, and his childhood friend Playa’s house.

When Will learns Playa was raped at a party—a party he was at, where he saw Playa, and where he believes he could have stopped the worst from happening if he hadn’t left early—it spurs Will to stop being complacent in his own sadness and do some good in the world. He begins to leave small gifts for everyone in his life, from Superman the homeless guy he passes on his way to work, to the Little Butterfly Dude he walks by on the way home, to Playa herself. And it is through those acts of kindness that Will is finally able to push past his own trauma and truly begin to live his life again. Oh, and discover the truth about that cornbread.



What I Leave BehindWhat I Leave Behind by Alison McGhee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If this isn’t on your radar, it should be! This is a remarkable YA novel!

From page one, I was pulled into this beautifully written, uniquely told story. There are 100 written pages with 100 words on each page. Perfect for reluctant readers, this novel will draw you in. Will, our narrator, shares his pain of his dad’s suicide, the rape of his best friend, Playa, and the action he takes to cope with this trauma. He walks it off. But during his walks, he gives to others, often in secret. It brings him great joy to make other people’s lives better. For a book with few words, it’s filled with plenty of fascinating characters. There’s a homeless man named Superman, Will’s boss, Major Tom, and Mrs. Lin, who owns what Will calls “the blessings store.”

I really felt for Will. He has a huge, loving, compassionate heart. This world needs kindness, and this novel spreads it in spades!

Highly recommend!

View all my reviews


About Alison McGhee

Allison McGhee, photo from her Goodreads page

Alison McGhee writes novels, picture books, poems, and essays for all ages and is the author of #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestseller SOMEDAY, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. Her work has been translated into more than 20 languages. She lives in Minneapolis, California and Vermont.

Visit her: Website 




Blog Tour: DIE FOR YOU by Amy Fellner Dominy – Review, Novel Secret & #Giveaway
Nov 16th, 2016 by Liza Wiemer



ABOUT DIE FOR YOU:die-for-you-coverf

Theirs was the perfect love story.

After Emma Lorde’s parents’ divorce forces her to move halfway across the state of Arizona to live with her father, Emma must face her senior year in a new school knowing absolutely no one.

Then she meets Dillon Hobbs and something just clicks.

Dillon introduces Emma to friends she can call her own. He provides a refuge from the chaos of her past and the security of a commitment that he promises will last forever. And because circumstances of her messy life forced Emma to put aside her dream of pursuing archaeology, Dillon creates a blueprint for a future together.
He saves her, over and over, by loving her more than she thought anyone ever would.

But just when everything seems picture-perfect, Emma is offered an opportunity that will upend the future they’ve planned. Uncertainty grows, and fear spirals into something darker.

Now Dillon is the one who needs saving.

But how much do you sacrifice for the one you love? What if saving Dillon means losing herself?

LINKS: Amazon | B&N 

About Amy Fellner Dominyafd

Amy Fellner Dominy is a former advertising copywriter, MFA playwright and hula-hoop champion. Her novels for teens and tweens include Die For You (11/8/16); A Matter of Heart, Audition & Subtraction; and OyMG, a Sydney Taylor Notable Book.  Amy’s first picture book, Cookiesaurus Rex, will be published by Disney, Fall 2017. Amy lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband, various pets and two kids who occasionally stop by for free meals.

LINKS: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Die for YouDie for You by Amy Fellner Dominy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Profound, painful, powerful. DIE FOR YOU is hard to put down.

Readers will get sucked into the lives of Dylan and Emma and watch what appears to be a beautiful relationship spiral out of control. Amy Fellner Dominy creates a story that could be going on at any high school. Yes, with different circumstances, but we’ve seen the headlines—teens so wrapped up in each other that one or both would be willing to die to keep the other or to make sure they stay together. Forever. In death. Not all relationships that are unhealthy take it that far, but here are some chilling statistics: One in three young people will be in an unsafe or unhealthy relationship. WOW!

Though this is a gut-wrenching, important topic, the story is gripping. The way Amy integrated Emma’s family history and Dylan’s family history brought an eye-opening understanding to the intensity of the relationship. Another very cool aspect was Emma’s love for archeology, which plays a central theme in the novel. I loved the story created around Pompeii.

Friendship is also explored. How loyal should a friend be? What constitutes disloyalty? And then there is family betrayal as well as loyalty to one’s family. What lines should or shouldn’t be crossed?

Without a doubt, DIE FOR YOU is the type of novel that will take you on a journey of reflection, and for some a mirror to look into and hopefully recognize before things get too out of hand. This kind of ugly love is not love at all. It needs to be revealed. It needs to be understood.

Brava, Amy! I highly recommend this novel!

Novel Secret by Amy Fellner Dominy

This book started with an innocent question: “How did you and your husband end up together?”

I asked a friend that question about twenty years ago. I’ve always been a romantic and there’s nothing I love as much as a good love story. But what I got instead was a reply that sent shivers up my spine. She told me her husband had said that if she ever left him, he’d kill himself.

And she believed him.

So she married him.

I never forgot that over the years. How could a smart, talented, beautiful woman let herself be manipulated that way? I would never fall for that kind of emotional blackmail…or would I?

What if I loved someone and what if I worried for his life? What if he convinced me his need was love? What if I thought it came down to his life or mine?

What would I be willing to sacrifice?

What should I be willing to sacrifice?

I always say it was the search for answers that led me to write Die for You. But really, it began with a question.

Thanks so much for hosting me!



(3 copies of DIE FOR YOU – USA only)

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Tour Schedule:

Flashback Friday: SCARS by Cheryl Rainfield
Sep 5th, 2014 by Liza Wiemer


For more information on FLASHBACK FRIDAY,

check out Fiction Fare

SCARS by Cheryl Rainfield7531478

Published by: Westside Books

Pub date: March 24, 2010

Buy it here: IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible | Book Depository

Connect with Cheryl Rainfield here: Twitter | Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads


From Goodreads:

Kendra, fifteen, hasn’t felt safe since she began to recall devastating memories of childhood sexual abuse, especially because she still can’t remember the most important detail– her abuser’s identity. Frightened, Kendra believes someone is always watching and following her, leaving menacing messages only she understands. If she lets her guard down even for a minute, it could cost Kendra her life. To relieve the pressure, Kendra cuts; aside from her brilliantly expressive artwork, it’s her only way of coping. Since her own mother is too self-absorbed to hear her cries for help, Kendra finds support in others instead: from her therapist and her art teacher, from Sandy, the close family friend who encourages her artwork, and from Meghan, the classmate who’s becoming a friend and maybe more. But the truth about Kendra’s abuse is just waiting to explode, with startling unforeseen consequences. Scars is the unforgettable story of one girl’s frightening path to the truth.

Watch the book trailer here: 


Scars by Cheryl Rainfield Reviewed November 2010

I recently heard the following statistics: 1 out of 4 girls are sexually abused and 1 out of 6 boys are sexually abused. Scary numbers indeed! Scars is an important, emotional story about sexual abuse and cutting. It is hard to read, but even harder to put down. Whether you or someone you know has been abused or whether you want to understand the physical/spiritual/sexual/emotional impact, this novel is IT! There is a lot of intrigue and questions as the reader is led on a journey with the MC to discovering her perpetrator so that she can move forward on her path to healing. This novel will haunt you long after you put it down. Truly memorable. A must read!

View all my reviews


The Program, by Suzanne Young – Book Club Event at Boswell Books
Apr 29th, 2013 by Liza Wiemer



Thank you to Boswell Books for hosting our book club! For more info on this fantastic indie books store, check out Boswell Books.

Goodreads Summary:  

For more info: Goodreads

Programcover In Sloane’s world, true feelings are forbidden, teen suicide is an epidemic, and the only suzanneyoungsolution is The Program.

Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.

Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them.

My take: 

Intense, powerful, suspenseful. Kids are committing suicide left and right. It’s an epidemic. Certain kids are more at risk than others – those who lost a family member or a friend. The Program will make sure that you’ll be okay. Except no one comes out the same. Good memories, bad memories will vanish. You’ll have holes in your life, but hey – if it keeps you alive, it’s so much better than the alternative, right? Or is The Program what’s driving kids to kill themselves?

I read this this ARC for our book club and we all agreed that THE PROGRAM is a fantastic book for discussion. Our conversations about the characters, their relationships, The Program and its impact really made me think. I hope that others will read this with a group, and if not, that there are online discussion groups to add your perspective and to get others’ thoughts. Does suicides breed more suicides? Would you want to lose your memories? Do antidepressants help or add to the problem? All fascinating questions.

At times, I found the book to be quite dark – after all, it is about suicide. The suspense and sweet romance balances some of that out.

Suzanne Young is a terrific writer. Guaranteed to have you hooked.

photo copy 8

Heidi from YA Bibliophile showing us her cool nails and the “ring” connected to the book!

Definitely read with a group if you can!

We truly had lively discussion and enjoyed sharing our perspectives. One thing that we all thought was interesting is that this novel has a dystopian feel, but we wouldn’t necessarily categorize it that way.

HUGE THANKS TO: The awesome Heidi @ YA Bilbliophile for putting this event together for our group. She is so creative and organized. Her enthusiasm is contagious! <3 her!


photo copy 6

Heidi from YA Bibliophile, our awesome organizer! Look at the awesome bags, pretzels, cupcakes she made! Oh and we had jelly beans for our “pills.”

The Best YA Novels About Suicide
Jun 14th, 2012 by Liza Wiemer

The idea to continue writing blog posts with lists of “The Best YA Novels About ________” came from the fabulous Stacy at http://girlsinthestacks.com/  She had mentioned to me that she liked the post The Best MG/YA Novels About Death, Dying, or Those Left Behind, and as a (former) librarian, she found these lists helpful. Her comment inspired me to continue, and I hope to complete one at least once a month.

For this month, I reviewed my Goodreads list and realized I had read quite a few YA novels on suicide. Suicide is in the news every day, but it’s not something people openly talk about. My life was touched by suicide when my favorite babysitter killed herself. I was probably around eight. Until this day, that experience has had a profound influence on me. (You can read my post about it here: http://www.whorublog.com/?p=371 )

The BEST YA Novels About Suicide:

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

On top is Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why. Here’s my review as posted on Goodreads: “I renewed this book from the library because I had a few false starts. Once I got rolling, I couldn’t put it down. Boy, this was a heartbreaker. Suicide is a tragedy that sticks with you forever, and my life has been touched by it. I lost my favorite babysitter to suicide. She was a beautiful high school student and every time she came over we had the best time together doing art projects, going to the park, baking. One day she didn’t show up, because a few hours before she locked herself in the garage and turned the car on. She died of carbon monoxide poisoning. I never knew why she killed herself and, after all these years, I still think about her and wonder. Thirteen Reasons Why shows how a teen’s life can go spiraling out of control. I wonder if this book had been available years ago if perhaps it would have been a deterrent, perhaps saving my babysitter’s life. I know there’s a lot of controversy going around Twitter right now over the Wall Street Journal article about “dark” YA novels, but they have an important place. I bet Thirteen Reasons Why has already saved some lives and will continue to do so in the future. Dark, painful, heartbreaking – but nevertheless IMPORTANT.”

Impulse and Perfect by Ellen Hopkins, two books written in verse, are incredibly powerful and touch on suicide in a way that will

Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

shake readers to the core. Here’s my reviews from Goodreads: I received the ARC of Perfect, the second Impulse book, at the BEA but didn’t want to read it until I read Impulse. So glad I started with Impulse. Impulse is a novel that will grab you by the neck of your shirt and pull you right into the pages. You’ll feel for the characters, so much so that it’s sometimes hard not to believe that the characters aren’t real. Impulse tells the story of Conner, Vanessa, and Tony, three very different people who tried to kill themselves in different ways and ended up at Aspen Springs, an inpatient treatment center. Their lives intertwine and you learn what has led them to perform such desperate and painful acts to attempting suicide. Even though Ellen Hopkins novel is fiction, she draws from real life experiences and brings an intense, high level of authenticity to the voice of each character. I have known YAs who have suffered because of acts described in this novel, and as we watch the healing of some and the downward spiral of another, this book makes you want to be vigilant when it comes to those you know around you suffering, perhaps silently. Impulse is a warning. Impulse is an opportunity. Keep your ears, eyes, and hearts open. No one should find themselves in such a deep, dark hole that he can’t climb out and get help and/or recognize when a friend needs help. An intense, must read!

Perfect by Ellen Hopkins

Although Perfect doesn’t focus on suicide, it definitely addresses the issue and should be read after Impulse. Here’s my Goodreads review of Perfect:

Read the ARC of Perfect, which I received at the BEA. Perfect is the second novel or companion novel to Impulse. Where Impulse deals with issues of suicide, Perfect deals with YAs obsession with perfecting their bodies or the need to be “perfect” students, athletes, daughters, sons, human beings – an impossible task. Yet, how many people do we know strive for perfection? Let this novel be a warning to those who take it too far.
This book takes place during the same time period that Impulse does, but from the perspective of Conner’s sister Cara, Conner’s ex-girlfriend Kendra, Sean, Cara’s boyfriend, and Andre, Kendra’s sister’s boyfriend. Four different stories about how pressure from parents and pressure from oneself can have dire consequences. Insightful and painful, another must-read by Ellen Hopkins.

Forget You by Jennifer Echols is intense, well-written novel addressing the attempted suicide of a parent. Here’s Goodreads review:

Forget You by Jennifer Echols

Forget You will stay with you long after you turn the last page.  I couldn’t put this novel down and finished it in one sitting. Jennifer Echols tackles some big issues like attempted suicide, mental illness, low self-esteem, sex, love, respect, and friendship. In Forget You, Zoey’s mother has a nervous breakdown and attempts suicide. The impact it has on Zoey leads to some intense, painful impulsive decisions.  She goes through a tough personal journey and, at times, it is painful to “see” her suffer & make poor choices.  But isn’t that what life is all about sometimes?  This is precisely why this novel is so valuable for young adults.  One of the most difficult aspects of this novel is watching the MC stick with a guy who she thinks is a great boyfriend, but is really a jerk.  A valuable portrayal that I hope will help prevent other girls from making the same poor choices & help them look for those great guys out there with caring, loving hearts.

Mercy Lily by Lisa Albert

Mercy Lily by Lisa Albert is a novel I listed in “The Best Novels About Death, Dying, or Those Left Behind.” But I also am including it here because it talks about assisted suicide. Here’s my Goodreads review: “Bold. Daring. Lisa Albert had a lot of guts to write this book for young adults, and for that I deeply admire her. Death is a hard enough subject for people to discuss, but to add in assisted suicide takes a fortitude and belief in oneself that is tough-as-nails underneath a soft, caring heart. The story is about a girl named Lily who cares for her sickly veterinarian mother who unfortunately is stricken with MS. Conventional medicine had brought her no relief, so she opts for alternatives including BVT, having bees sting her in order to control the pain brought on by MS. I personally am not fond of bees, so it took me awhile to become “desensitized” to the descriptions. But I stayed with it.

I am certain there are people who will see this novel as pro-assisted suicide/pro-alternative medicine. Maybe. I saw this novel as presenting a different side to a very controversial issue. An important side that people face every day. I’ve never walked in these shoes, but reading MERCY LILY gave me a small glimpse into that world and made me think about my own beliefs connected with my own faith. It’s a conclusion worth looking at. Lisa Albert handled these difficult circumstances with grace and dignity, whether or not the reader would agree or disagree with the choice Lily and her mother made.
This YA novel should be read by high school or college ethics classes. Definitely recommend.”

Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams

Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams is a novel I read after the original posting. I added it on June 28, 2012. Here’s my Goodreads review:
I am wide awake at 1:40 AM writing this review. Because this begs to be done NOW!
Waiting left me speechless. Yes, I knew before I started reading that it was about a beloved brother who had died and how his death impacted his entire family – his mother, father, and sister. But wow. This novel will break your heart because you feel the heartbreak of London, Zach’s sister and the narrator, who feels so much guilt that it jumps off the page. The story is told in verse, sometimes quite detailed, sometimes sparse, but always packing a load of emotion and depth and drama that keeps the story moving forward quickly.
I was deeply touched by the wonderful friends who came to London’s rescue, making sure she knows she’s loved and cherished and alive. I appreciated each one of them, got a sense of their personalities and flaws. In many ways, they were much wiser than some of the adults, particularly London’s mother who is so damaged, so vicious in her pain, that she has not an ounce of kindness or love to give to London. London’s father also is broken, but less so, since he relies on faith to get him through every difficult waking minute.
My only suggestion would be to read this during the day, because here I am, exhausted, unable to sleep because I can’t stop thinking about these characters.
I highly recommend this novel for all, but especially to librarians and teachers and those who might feel a loved one is at risk with depression. This really shows the impact a suicide has on those left behind, which is one of this novel’s greatest strengths. It will definitely appeal to Ellen Hopkins fans who have read Impulse.
This is an important novel. Don’t miss it.

Although I have NOT read Saving June, it has received excellent reviews. Here’s the Goodreads link: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10947600-saving-june

In addition to my list above, I recommend looking at YA Bookshelf’s Suggested Reading here: http://www.yabookshelf.com/2010/12/suicide-awareness-week-wrap-up/ I have read several novels on her list and definitely endorse reading them: 1. Hate List by Jennifer Brown – see my interview with Jennifer here: http://www.whorublog.com/?p=445 2. Bruiser by Neal Schusterman 3. Looking for Alaska by John Green and 4. Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

Do you have any to add? Would love to include your best YA novels about suicide. Just leave the title and a link to a review if you have one in the comments.



A suicide left a permanent mark on my life – Don’t do it, get help!
Apr 1st, 2010 by Liza Wiemer

Catherine – She was beautiful.

I actually couldn’t wait for my parents to leave the house, because it meant that Catherine was coming over.  She didn’t babysit; she came over to hang out.  We did art projects, enjoyed ice cream, walked to the park in the summer and skated in the winter.  I loved to watch Catherine meticulously cut out paper and Modge Podge the image onto a rock we found on the beach.  She layered paper and created the most awesome collages.  She spoke to me like a friend and seemed to always be interested in what I had to say.  I totally wanted to be like her.  Her golden hair was long, straight, and shiny; her skin was flawless and like porcelain. I loved the attention she gave me, and I hated it when she left.  One of the last things I remember asking her was when I would see her again. She said, “Tomorrow.”

I remember waking up excited. Catherine was coming over.  Would we paint?  Would we cook?  Maybe a treasure hunt?

But she didn’t show up.

I was confused. Where was she?

Catherine had killed herself the night before.

She had sat in her parents’ car in the garage, turned on the ignition, and let it run until she inhaled enough carbon monoxide.  She was dead.


Never coming back.

I was devastated.

It’s been over three decades since Catherine killed herself, leaving behind her parents and five sisters.  I’ve never forgotten her.  I loved her.  And I was just a small child.

It hurts ‘til this day.  I was just the kid she babysat – but she changed me long before that fateful day.  She loved me back.  I am certain that Catherine never truly knew how much she meant to me, that I would miss her, and think about her even after all these years.  She was the best – and she didn’t even know it.

How many Catherines are there in this world, thinking about killing themselves because life’s horrible?  Because the world is closing up around them?  Because they’ve been bullied and they can’t take it anymore?  Because of pressure so great it seems unbearable?  There are so many reasons why teens think about suicide…

PLEASE DON’T DO IT!  Please get help – NOW.

Don’t leave a trail of broken hearts.

DON’T KILL YOURSELF – please.  You are important, you are valued, and loved – you may not even know how much.

Get help.  Talk to a relative, teacher, counselor, friend, minister, rabbi, neighbor. Don’t stop until someone hears you and helps you.

Here is a number for you to call:

National Suicide Prevention Hotline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255)


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvjEmRBuKiU&feature=player_embedded (A video on for suicide prevention)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGcGfPgLOc0&feature=player_embedded (A young woman talks about her sister’s suicide)

http://tinyurl.com/yzt2dj9 (An article on cyber-bullying and suicide, by Cindy Springsteen)

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