Stars Given: 5/5
Review: After reading this novel, I was left speechless. Erin Lee weaves a story that is so beautifully haunting and powerful that I was left thinking about the novel for days after reading it. It took me a while to know exactly what I wanted to put into my review. I knew that I wanted to touch on just how important this novel is, but I didn’t know how to. The main character, Violet, is a victim of child abuse starting at a very young age. The subject matter is extremely sensitive, yet Lee writes with such a strong voice that brings this heavy topic to light in such an strong way. As an advocate for children, Erin Lee is no stranger to dealing with tough situations like this and it is shown in her writing. I found myself in awe of Violet’s strength beginning at such a young age and stretching through out the book, all the way up to the final page. Even as Violet’s life changes, she continues to be held back in many ways by her sexual abuse.
I hope that this novel does just as it is intended to and brings the voice of victims out of the dark. I often found myself crying while reading, just at the thought of how messed up the system is and how something of this nature could happen, but it does everyday. No child (or anyone for that matter) should be subjected to such physical and emotional abuse. I rooted for Violet, hoping that she would one day be able to move past her family abuse, but, as shown in the novel, that is often not an easy task. As if the novel doesn’t leave you thinking on your own, there are discussion questions at the end of the book which are perfect for a book club or class discussion. Erin Lee’s message in When I’m Dead is something that all should hear, and though the subject matter is so tough, she does a great job of not being graphic or going into too much detail.
Before reading this novel, the only other book by Lee that I’d read was Nine Lives, which is basically the reverse of this novel. I am so happy that I read that novel first (in which two girls falsify claims of sexual abuse against their father) because now I see how the system is truly messed up on both sides. If an innocent man can go to jail based on false accusations, and a guilty man can be free after molesting his daughter for years, then you know something is wrong. For any one who enjoyed Nine Lives, I recommend this novel as well. Both are must reads and are what I would describe as “hauntingly powerful”. Thank you, Erin Lee, for repeatedly opening my eyes to such problems.