Donna M. Zadunajsky
Reviewed by Emily Sutton (age 16) for Reader Views (02/17)
“Help Me!” by Donna M. Zadunajsky is the story of thirteen-year-old Mick and his struggles with life. He seems like an average teenager but he’s going through quite a bit. His parents are divorced and Mick is angry with his mom. Mick’s best friend Ray committed suicide because he was constantly bullied about being gay, and he couldn’t take it anymore. After Ray’s suicide, Mick went to live with his dad to get away from the bullies and make a fresh start. Mick deals with his pressures by cutting himself. He says it relieves the pressure so he can breathe again.
Layla is Mick’s best friend. When she notices that Mick starts posting sad messages on his social media accounts she is really not sure what to do, but she ends up telling her mother, who thinks Mick may be suicidal. Layla’s mom steps in and informs people about what is going on with Mick. Because of her interference, Mick and Layla end up having a fight. Layla is worried. Will Mick get the help he needs?
This book covers a lot of things that teens go through in today’s hi-tech world. There is so much pressure coming at us from every angle that I’m guessing many parents don’t even know what is going on with their kids. I know some people at school who have been bullied; it seems everyone has been at some point and to some degree. It’s not so hard to imagine being overwhelmed by it – kids are so cruel. It is hard to imagine being so depressed that you want to hurt yourself, but it is a real issue and as the author says in the book, suicide ranks as one of the top three causes of deaths in teenagers and young adults.
“Help Me!” was hard to read because it really told the truth directly and was actually in your face. The voices of Mick and Layla were very clear. Mick didn’t hold back his feelings and you could really feel his despair. The characters are authentic, genuine, and totally believable.
I recommend “Help Me!” by Donna M. Zadunajsky to all teenagers because I think it is good book to raise awareness about current teen-age social issues. I give it five stars. The author also includes valuable information in the front of the book about where to get help and it’s clear she did a lot of research.