“My beautiful failure” Janet Ruth Young

ARC (Advance Reading Copy). To be published November 13, 2012. Atheneum Books for Young Readers (Simon & Schuster). 304 pp.

Billy feels like he’s climbing the walls. His dad was diagnosed with depression several months ago, and is supposed to be doing better but Billy’s not so sure. He starts neglecting his own life and school work to make sure his dad doesn’t repeat the mistakes that led to his breakdown, but it’s getting tough. All his dad wants to do is paint endlessly, and it seems all Billy does is nag him about it. To try and distract himself, he volunteers for the Listeners, a suicide hotline.

While working for the Listeners, he meets Jenny. Despite being one of their frequent callers Billy felt an instant connection. The rules of the Listeners specifically state not to get involved with callers, but Billy is sure he and Jenny can make it work. Jenny is always depressed when she calls, but Billy seems to be the only one who can cheer her up and make her forget her troubles. He is sure they are meant to be together, and is ready to tell her his feelings. However, between his father’s erratic behavior and Jenny’s inability to confront her troubles, it soon becomes apparent Billy bit off more than he could chew.

“My beautiful failure” is a bit on the dark side, yet combines hope with despair in short, descriptive chapters. It’s a thoughtful read for those 14 and older.

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