Frank, Owen, Jin-ae and Audrey know each other from an online community; they have shared the stories of how they tried to commit suicide. They decide that they want to take a cross-country trip to visit the suicide places of celebrities - ending with their own suicides in Death Valley. But once they're out on the road, they realize that it might not be so easy to stick to the plan.
I've read a lot of really great reviews of this book, but I'm not sure that I had the same reaction. I found it hard to care about any of the characters or whether they would actually go through with their suicide pact. (I was particularly perplexed by the brief mention to Jin-ae - a lesbian - having heterosexual sex on the trip. This, to me, came out of nowhere and was really unnecessary.) Owen was by far my favourite character, I think because we spent so much time with him. Maybe I just wasn't committed to the book, or maybe I've been reading too many books with similar dark themes - maybe I'm just burned out on this type of book. I think I would have responded better to a short story of some kind, but since the book is about the journey, that probably wouldn't have worked (and it really isn't a long story as it is). I did appreciate how Albert Borris was able to convey the claustrophobic atmosphere of the car and the journey as well as the compassionate, knowledgeable tone that he writes with. I also really liked the message board conversations that alternate with the real-time narrative; I love the idea of how anonymity can help create open, honest discussions, and how you can be friends with someone you've never met in person.
Find it at IndieBound.
Read it with:
Going Bovine by Libba Bray
13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Killing Yourself to Live by Chuck Klosterman