“The Gatekeepers” by Jen Lancaster is an emotional book about suicide written from the point of view of several teens who live with the pressures of North Shore – a small town in Illinois.
The teens all go to North Shore High School. There is a lot of pressure on the kids there to get into a really good colleges. There is a high suicide rate.
The teens are “GateKeepers,” and work to prevent further suicides. They include Mallory, Jasper, Owen, Simone, Kent, Braden, Stephen and Liam.
Simone is from England. She is the new girl in town.
Liam is a high school athlete who is pressured to do amazing on the field, and his parents abuse him and take privileges away from him if he doesn’t live up to expectations.
Kent and Stephen grew up together as best friends. They are the geeky kids, and the pressure comes from their moms that are always micromanaging them.
Jasper is a weed dealer, and his pressure comes from the fact that his parents are never home to talk to him. His house is really big (He even has his own wing!). He goes for days without seeing his parents as they are always gone on business trips.
Owen really likes film and photography. His parents never pay attention to him.
This book is really sad because once you get to know the characters, some of them die.
The book is based on the true story of a town that the author is from, and she wrote the book to try to stop the pattern and to show people the devastation that suicide has on the kids’ families, friends and other surroundings.
I found the book to be very hard to read and depressing, but it did get the message across. For people who are deep thinkers, have high sympathy levels and are over 14 years old, this could be a good book. It does, however, has some vulgarity in it and talks about topics that are aren’t appropriate for people under the age of about 14.