Ellery is going to kill herself. She has chosen the day and purchased the gun. She even booked a cleaning service to come right after so that her mother won’t have to deal with it. She has given away her possessions and broken away from her all of her friends except for Jackson Gray who remains frustratingly loyal. Ellery is ready to die until the gun breaks when she tries to shoot herself.
Certain that shooting herself is the only viable suicide option she has, Ellery tries to return the faulty gun. Except she brings it to the wrong store. And catches the attention of the security guard, Colter Sawyer who recognizes Ellery from school. Colter sees the warning signs despite Ellery’s best efforts to deflect.
Colter’s brother killed himself and Colter felt powerless to stop him. He refuses to let the same thing happen to Ellery and embarks on a one-man mission to save her. Colter uses the threat of telling someone her plans to get Ellery to promise to try to be present and live until the end of October.
But that’s fine. Ellery can play along for a few weeks. She can ignore the way Colter gets under her skin and makes her feel something for once. Because Ellery has already chosen a new date to kill herself–the night of Halloween in Teach Me to Forget (2016) by Erica M. Chapman.
Teach Me to Forget is Chapman’s debut novel and one that has to be considered in two lights. As a piece of fiction it is well-written and engaging. As a book about a character suffering from mental illness and considering suicide . . . it could do a lot more.
While Chapman does mention resources for help both in the book and on her website, I would have liked them to be a bit more visible within the text.
**Spoilers to follow as I discuss what did and didn’t work in the text.**
Obviously, Teach Me to Forget talks a lot about suicide. Ellery is depressed, she has already experienced one incident of self-harm, and she spends most of the novel determined to kill herself. In addition, Ellery bonds with her childhood friend Dean over their shared suicide plans despite Ellery’s realization that she doesn’t want him to kill himself. This could potentially be triggering and damaging for readers–particularly those who might have considered suicide in the past or are considering it now.
Chapman’s writing is excellent. Ellery’s narration is sardonic, authentic, and often heartbreaking. Ellery’s arc is compelling. Unfortunately, most of her healing isn’t shown on the page. Instead, the burden of saving Ellery remains with Colter who does eventually tell Ellery’s mother about her suicide plans. Ellery is hospitalized and begins therapy but none of that is shown on the page and instead occurs in the space between the book’s last chapter and its epilogue.
Teach Me to Forget is not a book I would highlight for its portrayal and treatment of mental illness. It is, however, a thoughtful book about healing, grieving, and finding love both for oneself and romantically. Teach Me to Forget marks Chapman as an author to watch.
Possible Pairings: Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake, Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark, This Raging Light by Estelle Laure, Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes, How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr, The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
*An advance copy of this title was provided for review by the publisher*