‘If I Wake’ by Nikki Moyes is a really powerful and confronting book that speaks directly to the issues of bullying, peer pressure and suicide among kids and teens.
It’s a journey through Lucy’s world of despair that is punctuated by moments of joy and hope along the way. Her times of escape are a respite for both Lucy and the reader.
As someone who still grieves one of my own senior high students who took her own life just five months ago, I found this really compelling reading. I wept and, at times, sobbed. I felt angry and defensive, feeling very protective of Lucy and her alternate realities. Lucy isn’t flawless; in fact, she’s portrayed quite realistically. While she’s not perfect, she certainly doesn’t deserve the cards she gets dealt by either her peers or her family.
“If I Wake’ made me want to reach into the world of the book and change things to give Lucy some hope for her future. To be honest, I wanted to be able to mete justice on some of the characters, which worked very effectively in keeping me
hooked right to the end of the book.
However, that’s not how life works. ‘If I Wake’ firmly places the responsibility on those who make life so desperately hard for others, and demonstrates that their behaviour cannot be excused, regardless of whatever might be going on in their own lives.
Eventually, in something of a coup for the author, I was led to experience some compassion for the personal circumstances of some – but only some – of the characters who gave Lucy such a difficult life. This is really a testament to the power of Moyes’ writing.
I recommend ‘If I Wake’ for every teen, every parent, and every teacher. I’d love to see it as compulsory reading on every school’s book list.
Don’t tell me I can’t do that. I was never good at counting.