By The Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead As the summary on the back of the book states, “Daelyn Rice is broken beyond repair, and after a string of botched suicide attempts, she’s determined to get her death right. ” Daelyn was bullied all throughout her life, at each one of the countless schools she was moved to and from by her parents, and couldn’t follow her dream because she was “too big”. Her parents would never understand her struggles, as they were both athletic, fit, and in a perfectly normal mental state.
Her mother, Kim, was afraid that Daelyn would embarrass her in public by having a panic attack. While her father, Chip, was clueless about dealing with a hypersensitive, bullied, and assaulted daughter. Daelyn described the way she believed that her parents viewed her with this sentence, “They were embarrassed by me, their sick, fat, psychotic creation. ” Each time her parents would say something such as, “We love you” or, “We’re glad you’re here with us,” Daelyn would just get stuck on the fact that they only said those things because the countless doctors and therapists instructed them to do so.
The therapists made her parents fill out forms on how Daelyn was acting, if any suspicious things were happening, and if her medication was working. The forms were necessary because after a messy encounter with exsanguination, the 15 year old was officially placed on twenty-four-hour suicide watch. Quite a while after Daelyn was no longer trusted to be alone due to her suicidal tendencies brought on by bullying and physical assault, a boy started to speak to her every day while she waited to be picked up from school.
This very social, quirky, and somewhat “nerdy” boy named Santana then tried to befriend Daelyn. He tried lending her one of his laptops which he called a Mini Me, but that didn’t work. He also tried bringing his pet rat for Daelyn to meet, but she turned out to hate rats. The only reason that Santana’s many attempts to become friends with Daelyn weren’t effective was that she was trying to desensitize herself and stop feeling any emotions. She was preparing for her Day of Determination by cutting off all ties she had with anyone.
She began to refer to her parents as Kim and Chip, instead of Mom and Dad, and each time she felt a profound emotion she would tell herself to stop feeling emotions and become completely detached from the world. When she referred to her parents as Kim and Chip, it was in her head, though. Daelyn was turned mute after drinking ammonia and bleach in an attempt to kill herself. This left her vocal cords acid-burned and rendered them useless. Because of the damage, Daelyn had to wear a neck brace at all times to keep from opening up the sores in her throat and bleeding to death.
The appearance of the brace and the fact that she was mute just became two more things that she could be bullied because of. Santana didn’t care about what she looked like though, he just wanted someone to talk to. His only friend had moved away earlier and he graduated early by being homeschooled (he was only 17 and was preparing to take online college courses) so people around his age were not very familiar with him. Santana had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and his mom, Ariel, was afraid that he would be bullied or that his condition would become worse if he went to a regular school.
Daelyn received her “Day of Determination” from a website she came across while researching wills. The website was www. through-the-light. com, a site for “completers”. On the site, it was against the policy to try to talk people out of their suicidal actions, and anyone who did was banned from it. The main purpose of the website was to give users a safe place to blog about their reasons for planning suicide. A “Day of Determination” is the date given to a user as they sign up. The minimum amount of days until a new user’s DOD is 23 days away.
Daelyn tries to set hers to the day after she signed up, but it stopped her because of the minimum-days rule. While on the website each day, she has to answer questions such as, “Will you be prepared? How will you be remembered? What awaits you? Who will see you through the light? ” All of the questions make Daelyn question whether or not she will go through with her plan. But her answers always prove that she had been ready for a while. In a section of the book, Daelyn’s mother tells he about a time in high school when she tried out to be a cheerleader and didn’t make it, but her friend that tried out with her did.
She then wondered why she told Daelyn that story, but eventually just passes it off as just a random memory that was shared to fill the silence of the car. But Daelyn has a different explanation as to why her mother remembered that story. She believes this: “Your failures and your faults. They stick with you. They glob into ugly, cancerous growths inside you and make you want to die. ” This shows Daelyn’s outlook on life, and proves that it isn’t at all a positive one. In another section of the book, Daelyn wonders what she would do if she could speak.
She thinks, “I wish I could tell my parents, ‘If you want to help me, help me die’. ” She later remembers a girl from her school when she was ten. She says she knew the girl was a cutter because she could see the scabs and scars on her arms during reading class. She thinks, “At ten, she was already cutting. At ten, I was planning my death. ” All of these are examples of Daelyn’s true desire to end her life showing through her character. In the end of the book, Daelyn is facing the last few things that need to be taken care of before she reaches her Day of Determination.
Things such as throwing away all of her possessions, and destroying all evidence that she was ever alive. Her completely-put-together plan to kill herself started by being dropped off at school by her father, going into her first class and being marked down as present on the attendance record. She would then tell her teacher she needed to go to the nurse to call her mom to get some painkillers. But instead of going to the nurse, she would go home. Once she would get home, she would take apart her desk in her room and put the cinder blocks used to keep it standing up into the bathroom.
She would then fill the bathtub up with water, get in, and lace the cinderblocks on top of her chest to keep her under water. After about five minutes, Daelyn would be dead. The book is not exactly clear in saying if Daelyn actually follows through with her plan, though. It ends with Chip calling for her to get into the car so he can drive her to school, but he doesn’t know that it’s Daelyn’s Day of Determination; no one does. The last few sentences are, “I stick the Mini Me into my book bag and shut the door behind me. It’s time. With determination and purpose, I head into the light. This seems like it’s saying that she follows through with her plan, but a bit earlier in the book, she says Santana may be able to help her cope with the events that scarred her. There are many more details to this book that could not be covered in five paragraphs. Details such as Daelyn’s first words spoken in over a year being directed to Santana, and a girl in Daelyn’s choir reminding her of what hope looked like, and Daelyn’s reaction when she realizes that by following through with her plan, she will never see her mother again because she was away on a business trip over the weekend of Daelyn’s DOD.
These details provide so much more depth and so many more ways that the book could be looked at, comprehended, and scrutinized. But mainly, those details attribute to the confusion found within the open-ended conclusion to the book. I would like to believe that Daelyn doesn’t kill herself in the end, but by the way I understood her thought process, I would think that she probably follows through with her plan on her Day of Determination. After all, it is called her Day of Determination, and she seemed extremely determined to become a “completer” and finally find her way out of her senses and into the light.