Playlist For The Dead by Michelle Falkoff

3.5/5 Stars
Published by HarperTeen
Published January 27, 2015

Synopsis (taken from Goodreads): A teenage boy tried to understand his best friend's suicide by listening to the playlist of songs he left behind. Here's what Sam knows: There was a party. There was a fight. The next morning, his best friend, Hayden, was dead. And all he left Sam was a playlist of songs, and a suicide note: For Sam- listen and you'll understand. As he listens to song after song, Sam tries to face up to what happened the night Hayden killed himself. But it's only by taking out his earbuds and opening his eyes to the people around him that he will finally be able to piece together his best friend's story. And maybe have a chance to change his own.

This was a lovely debut novel! It was gripping, heart-wrenching, and overall a well written story. It is a bit similar to that of 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher, but it follows a completely different storyline. Michelle Falkoff did an excellent job depicting the after effects of teen suicide. As we watch Sam deal with the death of his best friend, we see parts that are brutally honest and harsh, but we watch a character develop into much more. This was definitely a sad read because it dealt so much with serious issues (bullying and death), but I felt that it brought a very needed light upon the affects of such topics. 

Everything in this book was very well written and had a nice, easy flow to it. It was very slow paced, which made it easier to get a feel for the characters and the plot, and it really made my attachment for Sam grow. I really began to feel for his character and understand him a lot more as we made our way through this slow, ever-moving plot. There was a lot of depth to the characters in this book, which made it intriguing to read. Each found that they were responsible for Hayden's death and each felt that they had their own part that added up to this one giant picture. With this came one of the most raw quotes I have ever read regarding teen suicide: "Because if none of us is a hundred percent responsible, then it's probably just as likely that none of us could have stopped this from happening."

As you can tell from the title of this book, music has a very prominent part in this story. Hayden and Sam were huge music junkies, and so they shared every last bit of music with each other. They would argue over their favorite bands and genres, so it only seemed fitting that Hayden would explain his decision through something they both loved. At the beginning of each chapter there is a different song, each of them making up the twenty-seven songs on Hayden's playlist. In some chapters Sam explains what situation is related to which song --- the conversation they shared whilst that song was playing, the argument they had related to that band ---, or you're just left to listen to the song and figure it out for yourself. Sometimes Sam didn't even know the reasoning behind Hayden's song choice and so you would be left to piece it together. This helped me understand Hayden in a way Sam may never be able to do.

This book was really thought-provoking and took me longer to read simply because I spent so much time actually listening to the playlist and trying to decipher what was going through Hayden's head. It was definitely a mystery that both Sam and I were trying to figure out. It was really nice to see how all the characters were connected in some way, despite having nothing in common. The romance aspect really threw me off, maybe because it was during a very untimely event. The progression was just a bit awkward and quick, but it definitely introduced hope and light in a time of darkness. I definitely did not see the ending coming, so if you love a little surprise and mystery, I really recommend this book! I felt that the ending really tied everything together nicely (I may have shed a few tears here and there) and the messages and morals of this story were made very clear.