Release date: January 27th 2015
When Sam’s best friend Hayden kills himself, he leaves behind a playlist of songs with one message: listen and you’ll understand. Sam listens and he tries to decipher each song, wanting to understand what happened that night of the party, the night before Hayden killed himself. As hard as he tries, Sam can’t understand. Not until he started talking to other people and learning the whole truth of Hayden’s story.
I knew going into this book that the subject matter would make it a hard read. It’s not a subject that should be a light, easy read and the author did a good job balancing the storyline of Hayden’s bullying and suicide with Sam’s struggle to cope and move on. I really liked all the music references woven into the plot, the chapter titles being all songs, mentions of why a particular band or song was liked, what Sam thought Hayden was feeling by choosing certain songs.
Sam was a very sympathetic and enjoyable character. The book wasn’t just about him listening to the playlist to determine Hayden’s reasons but also about his own grief, guilt, and ability to move on. He had so much anger inside him, for Hayden’s bully of a brother, for Hayden’s parents, for himself, and for the most part, he kept all his feelings bottled up. I really enjoyed his relationship with his mother and his sister, and also his sister’s boyfriend. They were all so supportive of what he was going through even though he wasn’t talking to them and they provided some lighthearted moments.
I do wish we’d gotten more of Hayden. His characterization was built up in flashbacks and I did feel for him, but I would have liked to have had a little more time with him. Not too much more, just enough to give me a little better sense of who he was. I liked that he felt a little incomplete as a character since his life was cut so short, incomplete.
Since Hayden was Sam’s only friend, not only did he have to cope with losing Hayden, he was also alone. He had his family and the school counselor but it wasn’t the same as having friends. We see him resist a girl, Astrid, trying to get him to join her group, but it was nice to see him slowly accepting new people in his life. Some of the group I liked more than others, with Erik being my favourite.
The mystery surrounding Hayden’s decision, piecing together the night of the party, was slow to unravel but I had guessed pretty early on what had happened. Another mystery involved someone targeting Hayden’s bullies and getting revenge and it was hard to feel sorry for those bullies. It was another mystery that I had figured out the identity of the person pretty early. I did kind of like that the mysteries were a little predictable to me since it kept my focus on Sam’s grieving and coping instead of a big twist.
There were minor feels going on through the book until closer to the end. The last quarter or so of the book really got me, especially with one specific character interaction(which would be a spoiler to mention so read the book and you’ll likely know which one I’m talking about).
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.