Music Heals Grief in YA Novel “Playlist for the Dead”
Michelle Falkoff’s debut novel Playlist for the Dead explores mental illness and the grieving process of those who are left behind when a loved one takes their life. The main character in the book is a teenaged boy named Sam, who is suffering from survivor’s guilt after his best friend Hayden takes his own life. Thanks to a playlist left behind by his buddy, the young man learns more about his friend, as well as how to open up to others.
Depression and suicide are not romanticized in Playlist For The Dead. Hayden’s agonizing decision and Sam’s turbulent emotions hits you full-force. Sam’s grief and his journey to redefine himself is one that many people, both young and old, can keenly sympathize with. But despite its dark topic, there is an element of hope in the novel, especially as Sam uses Hayden’s playlist to discover his friend’s inner thoughts. He eventually learns to come out of his shell, becoming more outgoing by the novel’s end.
Playlist for the Dead is a heartbreaking account of mental illness, but it also sends a great message too: no matter how dark your world appears to be, there’s always hope and something to live for.