Title: Playlist for the Dead
Author: Michelle Falkoff
Recommended for: 7th grade & up
Call Number/Link: Teen Fiction Falkoff, M
Synopsis: Here’s what Sam knows: There was a party. There was a fight. The next morning, his best friend, Hayden, was dead. And all he left Sam was a playlist of songs, and a suicide note: For Sam—listen and you’ll understand.
As he listens to song after song, Sam tries to face up to what happened the night Hayden killed himself. But it’s only by taking out his earbuds and opening his eyes to the people around him that he will finally be able to piece together his best friend’s story. And maybe have a chance to change his own.
Okay, let me start off with saying that the playlist left behind plays very little into the actual book. It triggers memories, but no answers are offered by what songs are chosen. However, that’s not so say if someone when and listened to the songs/looked the lyrics they wouldn’t get a deeper meaner. I didn’t take the time to do that, but I could totally see that being a possibility.
That being said, the heart of this book is about dealing with a friend’s suicide and the aftermath. It’s about unraveling the questions that are left behind and realizing sometimes there is just no clear cut answer. It’s about learning no matter how close you are to someone there are still secrets left to discover. It’s about how personal perspectives shade what we think happened and how we choose to deal with that. It’s about how revenge and how getting even isn’t always the answer. There’s a lot about bullying, the aftermath of said bullying, and how (or how not) to deal with that knowledge.
There some strange parts where it makes it seem like Sam is communicating with Hayden’s ghost. There are some things that are explained, like the IMs, but the rest is kind of left up to interpretation. Was Sam simply hallucinating from lack of sleep/grief or could there have really been a bit of supernatural help going on? The uncertainty of these parts was my least favorite part, but it wasn’t anything that left me ranting.
The blurbs have been pairing this book with Perks of Being a Wallflower, which I dont’ see at all. Instead, I would pair this one with 13 Reasons Why. I think that one person can make a difference message is very strong in both books. I say 7th & grade and up, but I think 6th graders could handle it. While it’s about the suicide, it’s more about unraveling the mystery of why he did it and how bullying can affect people.
How to sell/quick spiel: Sam is left is the wake of he’s best friends death, trying to figure out what happened. A party, a fight, and the next morning Hayden was dead. Sam must now unravel the mystery and secrets that Hayden left behind to figure out what really happened. Can he discover what truly caused his friend to step off the edge, a person to point the blame at or will the truth stay buried with Hayden?