The Program is about a girl named Sloane who lives in a world where suicide is a teenage epidemic. If a teen shows signs of depression, like crying or ostracizing themselves from their peers, they are sent to The Program to be “fixed.” Having already lost her brother to suicide, Sloane knows not to show any signs of even a mild depression. She buries her feelings and plasters a smile on her face. The only person she can truly be herself with is James.
All Sloane really knows about The Program is that no one comes back the same, so when James is sent to The Program, Sloane’s world is turned upside-down.
The book was so frustrating in the most amazing way possible. This was the first book I read by Suzanne Young, and now all I want to do is read more by her. I really loved Sloane. Even though she was really sensitive and cried at some of the most inopportune times (not going to lie; I probably would have too), I feel like she did the best that she could do in the most unideal situations. One thing that I didn’t like about her was that I felt like she wasn’t a very independent person. It seemed that throughout the entire book, she was never on her own for anything. She always needed to lean on someone before taking action. All that said, I loved Sloane, and I thought she was a great main character.
My favorite character, however, was James. Suzanne made him likable-y unlikable. He was perfectly imperfect. Apparently, to me, James was just a perfect contradiction. He was strong (both physically and mentally), protective, and curious. He wanted to take care of Sloane, no matter what it took. He had a huge heart underneath his tough exterior.
I think this is a book that all teens, maybe even all human beings, need to read. Suzanne made the message of self-acceptance so clear in The Program. Even though the book is technically about suicide, it’s also not really about suicide at all. It’s more about loving who you are and never letting anyone take that away from you. Your life is yours to live, and you should fight for it.
I give this book a 4.5 out of 5. I’m really looking forward to reading the second book in the series and seeing how everything turns out.