Donna M. Zadunajsky
Reviewed by Skyler Boudreau for Reader Views (11/17)
Carly Boyles has gone through more at age fifteen than most adults have through their entire lives. The reader is thrown into Carly’s turmoiled head as she struggles to survive a deeply traumatic situation, while obstacle after obstacle is thrown in her face. “Talk to Me” by Donna M. Zadunajsky tells an important story in a simple and engaging format.
Zadunajsky does an excellent job of portraying not just one important issue, but two. Teenage suicide and sexual violence are some the largest crises our country faces today and not enough people are educated about them.
Suicide is rarely caused by a single factor, and Carly is a strong representation of that statistic. She is bombarded by a series of triggering events, some she doesn’t even recognize until much later. The hopelessness and despair she experiences pulls the reader deep into her tragic life.
While Carly’s experiences and the ways she handles them are plausible, her voice is sometimes “wishy-washy.” There are short sections where she reads as much older than fifteen, and while it is certainly possible for a teenager to sound older than they are, it is at odds with the rest of her character.
There is also an unnecessary supernatural element that appears half-way through the novel and is never explained. It is not needed to further the plot in any way and could be edited out of the novella entirely and replaced with another realistic experience without sacrificing any part of Carly’s story.
One major issue prevented me from giving “Talk to Me” the four stars I had originally planned.
The ending is incredibly sad and powerful. It is a fantastic conclusion that leaves the reader wondering and trying to fill in the “afterwards” on their own. Or it would, if it wasn’t for the epilogue, which reads more like an author’s note and tells the readers exactly what happens after the ending. There isn’t any real story provided, but instead a summary that ties up the few loose ends left in Carly’s short life. Leaving the ending messy would have fit with the rest of the novel much better.
Overall, “Talk to Me” by Donna M. Zadunajsky accomplishes what it is set up to do; provide an emotionally draining story about a teenager struggling with suicidal thoughts and extreme grief. The epilogue significantly weakens the story itself, but the message is still there. “Talk to Me” is not for readers triggered by suicide and sexual violence. Those who are not will be in for an emotional journey of a young girl who life has treated more than poorly.