In this “gripping tale for lovers of dystopian romance” (Kirkus Reviews), true feelings are forbidden, teen suicide is an epidemic, and the only solution 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.
In Young's chilling and suspenseful story, teen suicide has spiked dramatically and been deemed a "behavioral contagion." Now students are watched closely and not allowed to mourn; if they exhibit the slightest signs of depression they are "flagged" and dragged (often literally) by "handlers" to the Program: six weeks of memory erasure followed by placement in a new school. Seventeen-year-old Sloane can't trust anyone with her true feelings except her boyfriend, James, who was with her when her older brother killed himself. When their best friend takes his own life, too, James is committed, followed by Sloane. Part two details Sloane's time in the Program, in which she's stripped of all control and her dignity, and the third section of the book follows her return to society. While Young's (A Want So Wicked) book is unrelentingly emotional and dark qualities that sometimes threaten to overwhelm the story line it confronts readers with questions about whether the past or the present defines a person, while makes a strong case for the value of all memories, good and bad. Ages 14 up.