Recommended for ages 13+
Anna is a high school student who doesn’t feel like she fits in. She’s got friends and family who love her, and she’s a talented artist; she seems to have everything going for her, but she doesn’t feel anymore. She’s detached from everything around her; she’s just going through the motions. She doesn’t want to live like this any longer, but she doesn’t want to hurt the people she leaves behind. She’s got plans written out, and finally, once her parents are out for the night, she overdoses on painkillers. A neighbor discovers her and gets medical intervention in time, but now the journey back to life begins, not just for Anna, but for everyone whose lives she touches.
Detached is a painful and accurate look at depression and how it affects everyone. Chapters alternate between Anna’s, her mother’s, and her best friend’s points of view, all told in the first person. Aliya, Anna’s best friend, notices Anna acting strangely, but is worried that saying something will alienate Anna. Anna’s mother, still grieving her own mother’s death, worries about her daughter, but doesn’t seem to grasp the gravity of Anna’s situation until it’s almost too late – and then, we read how Anna’s journey out of the black hole of depression affects a parent. It’s achingly real and it’s scary because it’s something we see in the headlines every day. Are we bad parents if we intervene? Are we bad parents if we don’t? I’d love to see parents and kids read this together and see how the other half thinks.
One of the most important messages coming out of Detached is this: depression is not the sufferer’s fault. It’s not a parent’s fault. It is an illness, just like any other, and it needs to be treated without stigma, with medication, therapy, love, understanding, and care. No one asks for depression to hit. This isn’t a gift, and sometimes, it’s just not possible to find the voice to ask for help. This is the power of Detached: to be that plea for help, for understanding, and to start dialogues that will shed light on an insidious disease.
Detached is an important addition to YA collections, particularly because it does talk so openly about a subject people are often uncomfortable addressing. Display and booktalk with Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why (which also has a very good companion website) and Julie Anne Peters’ By the Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead.
I read an e-galley of Detached, so I didn’t see additional resources at the end of the book; I hope that some have been added to a finished version. In the meantime, if you need help or know someone who does, please consider The Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.