Aaron Boroff and Tillie Stanley are both seventeen-year-old Americans. They have never met until the day when both of them come to the George Washington Bridge with the intention of leaping into the Hudson River to their deaths. The rest of this dark and harrowing novel revolves around four scenarios. In the first scenario Tillie does indeed jump. Aaron’s subsequent story follows on, depicting the impact of the suicide on Aaron’s and Tillie’s families. The second scenario tells the same story in reverse, when Aaron alone meets his death and Tillie must cope. In the third scenario both Tillie and Aaron leap to their deaths. In the fourth scenario neither of them jumps. Instead they form a friendship stemming from their joint experience on the bridge.
Koningsberg is a courageous writer and his book is vital and powerful. It discusses and demystifies the processes which can lead an individual, even someone young and healthy, to have suicidal thoughts. Despite the progress that has been made in tackling difficult subjects in YA books it is still true that suicide is a subject rarely addressed. This book, tackling such sensitive issues, pulls not a single punch. It is in truth a harrowing read, likely to have a profound effect on any reader. In the opinion of this reviewer it may be a mistake to hand this book to a young reader unless a sympathetic helper was available to guide the reader through the emotional turmoil reading the book will evoke.