Two teenagers, strangers to each other, have decided to jump from the same bridge at the same time. But what results is far from straightforward in this absorbing, honest lifesaver from acclaimed author Bill Konigsberg.Aaron and Tillie don't know each other, but they are both feeling suicidal, and arrive at the George Washington Bridge at the same time, intending to jump. Aaron is a gay misfit struggling with depression and loneliness. Tillie isn't sure what her problem is -- only that she will never be good enough.On the bridge, there are four things that could happen:Aaron jumps and Tillie doesn't.Tillie jumps and Aaron doesn't.They both jump.Neither of them jumps.Or maybe all four things happen, in this astonishing and insightful novel from Bill Konigsberg.
Konigsberg (The Music of What Happens), a suicide survivor aiming for "a complete discussion of suicide," per an author's note, tells this iterative story of 17-year-olds crossing paths on the George Washington Bridge, where both are considering jumping. Depressed Aaron Boroff, who is white, dreams of music fame and having a boyfriend; he is "deeply sick of himself and his stupid brain" and can't imagine that changing. Korean-born adoptee Tillie Stanley's convinced that she's weak and unlovable; she's been ghosted by the guy she was seeing, bullied by an ex-friend, and her father's basically pretending she doesn't exist. Alternatingly following Aaron, Tillie, and the people affected by their deaths including those who never got to know them the story is told several ways: with each, both, and neither jumping. Ending on a hopeful note, the book depicts Aaron and Tillie bonding and trying to keep each other going. Konigsberg's approach underscores depression's coercive power and the gifts of human connection, and he sharpens a universal story by populating it with distinctly individual characters. An author's note and resources for people experiencing suicidal ideation conclude. Ages 14 up.