Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 402
emotional and immersive YA contemporary
Overall rating 
 
4.3
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
THE TRAGEDY OF DANE RILEY is a compelling YA contemporary read about family, grief, depression, and mental illness. Dane is spiraling, feeling so much sadness from his father's death and anger at his mother and her new boyfriend. His mother has gotten him to see a new therapist, who wants to decrease medications and try talk therapy. Dane is starting to feel like his life is pointless and does not understand what he is heading towards. He is letting school get away from him and will not make a move on the beautiful girl next door that he is sure he loves.

As he navigates his life and does therapy, he begins to have some realizations about himself and the people around him that bring new perspectives.

What I loved: This was, at times, a challenging and emotional read - Dane is drowning in his grief and anger. His emotions and thoughts are central to the story, where we read in an almost stream-of-consciousness style. This really pulls the reader into his life and challenges. He is flawed and struggling, and I appreciated that with those elements, we also see the power of those around him to effect change in his life and reach him. Dane is relatively lucky in that he lives in a wealthy area, has a mother who takes him to therapy and friends and a teacher who are in his corner. These sorts of resources are always important to see.

Beyond these central themes, there were several others that I found thought-provoking within the story. For instance, his mother's boyfriend's son, who is a predator and takes advantage of girls, also bragging about abortions he has paid for. He feels like a caricature, but he conveys some themes around shaming, rape culture, and privilege that allows him to escape consequences.

There are also some intriguing conversations about reincarnation and the afterlife that Dane has as he processes his father's death. His and Ophelia's understandings and thoughts about romantic love were also both interesting and heart-breaking. This is definitely a read that makes you feel it all.

What left me wanting more: I wanted to see a bit more and find out what happens after the book ends. It does complete most of the threads of plot, but I always love to know more. The ending felt a little sudden to me, but maybe this was just because I was so wrapped up in Dane's emotions and life. I also wanted to see more about his suicidality and a little less stereotypes and stigmatizing of mental illness from main characters (around another character who has bipolar).

Final verdict: Immersive and emotional, THE TRAGEDY OF DANE RILEY is a YA contemporary that is sure to stick with the reader after the last page is turned. Recommend for fans of THE LUCKY ONES, WHEN THE STARS LEAD TO YOU, and EVERY OTHER WEEKEND.
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