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Saving Allison

Saving Allison - J. Stoute Saving Allison is a book by J. Stoute which speaks the story of Allison Perkins. She's a fourteen year old girl who has been dealt some difficult cards. Having been battling with self image and bullying, she's decided to take her own life and we begin the book with the preparation for her suicide. As she hangs from a rope and begins to suffocate, Jordan steps in. He's a guardian angel who has come to talk some things over with her and to show her the life she might be missing out on if she continues.

The characters are interesting, but most are fairly stereotypical. The mother and father of Allison love her dearly and seem to do no wrong. The bullies in the book are said to do it for no reason (that people would trip her just to watch her fall) and, later on in life, they would experience hardships like one boy always regretting what he'd done to her (forever punishing himself, or something to that extent) and that the popular girl would get left with a child and get fat. I don't have much problem with the characters apart from them being stereotypical. I just think that we don't see enough of each character, other than Allison and her parents. Even with her friends, they're said to be really good friends to her, but the conversations we experience with them just seem really bland and don't seem as if they are friends. They just seem more like acquaintances in a forced situation (it’s explained that they only really hang out together because none of them fit in elsewhere). I think, had we spent more time with them, there might be a better feeling between them and they might seem friendlier. More on that point, I think that it just seems like even Allison doesn't care that much about them. When Jordan is discussing the friends' lives apart from her and their visit to her funeral, she's confused that they would be there or even care that she's gone. It just seems like even she didn't think that they were good friends. A lot of Allison's life was a bit generic (typical baby and growing up stuff) and I wish we'd have gotten more reason for the kids bullying her. It just seems like there was no reason at all and just doesn't make sense to me. I know kids can be cruel, but it just seems beyond ridiculous. Apart from those points, the characters were okay. Not brilliant and many actions just didn't make sense, but they were fine otherwise.

The plot reminds me a lot of A Christmas Carol, where she sees both the past, present and future of the situation and how her decisions can change such things. I think that she had a lot of other options, though. The choice she made, to commit suicide, was very extreme. A lot of her problems could have been solved, like Jordan tries to tell her, with simply talking to others. If she'd spoken to people, than a lot of her problems might have been fixed a lot sooner. The bullying could have been fixed by speaking to teachers who might have punished the other children. The bullying might have been fixed by changing schools or even by being home schooled (her mother was a stay at home mum so it's a reasonable idea). I think the author did a reasonable job of trying to put together a lot of reasons for Allison's suicide (bullying, body image, rape), but because of the way it's written, it just doesn't feel like she's committed to it and that this is what she wants. I guess that's the moral of the book, that you always have other options. However, in the same way, that's what's confusing about the book; the author doesn't really explain properly why Allison doesn't take these other options, beside the fact that she's kind of embarrassed and she thinks it's awkward to talk to people about her problems. One thing that does bother me is that, when Jordan shames her for what she's done to her parents and friends (by committing suicide), it feels like that's just the wrong thing to say. It's not really her fault that she's been having suicidal feelings and by trying to chastise her like that is just bound to make her feel worse about her life. I, personally, hate when people say things like that, though it's a fairly common for people to say to suicidal people (many people call them weak and selfish). Apart from those points, the plot was somewhat generic, but had some interesting points.

The following paragraph is about the ninth chapter and will be hidden because of spoilers.
.On the other hand, the book does seem to have a sort of psychological portion about it. If you read the ninth chapter, as I did, I guess that all this can be seen in another light. That the stories and visions she had about the other characters futures (the boy regretting what he'd done and the girl growing old and overweight) are just in her own head, probably what she wishes would happen once she's passed on. In some way, it might be Allison hoping that those two would simply get punished to some extent. I appreciate the second ending and think it does give an interesting second look. In a way, it sort of explains to us that (at the very last minute) she's realised what she could have done and how her choices will affect other people, but now it's too late.

It's a quick book and it only took me about an hour to read this morning. It's fairly sad, but if you stop at the happily ever after ending, it has a lighter and more hopeful feeling, I would imagine. It's a bit preachy and, in many cases, does seem like it puts down suicidal people (in my opinion). Though I appreciate the moral that it tries to teach, that there's always other options and things you can do. Overall, it was alright, but I didn't necessarily enjoy it. As mentioned above, I didn't think that it was particularly original in either plot or characters. However, it was a decent book and I think some people might be helped by the story, even if I'm not.

I won a copy of this book via a First Reads giveaway and these are just my honest thoughts on it.