REVIEW: ‘The Program’ by Suzanne Young sheds light on teen mental health issues within society


Graphic Tisya Singh

Assistant A&E Editor Joceline Giron writes that “The Program” by Suzanne Young provides a unique take on how mental health affects teens.

Joceline Giron, Assistant A&E Editor

 In “The Program” by Suzanne Young, teen suicide is seen as an epidemic. Those who are at risk of suicide are sent to a program where they are completely stripped of any knowledge of their life before it. 

The only way one can break free from the program is by turning 18 or committing suicide successfully. The story starts with the protagonist, Sloane, in a classroom that is void of any characteristics. Her and her classmates are currently doing their daily check-ins before the lessons begins. The reader soon discovers that her brother had committed suicide recently, which has placed her on the list as someone who is at risk for suicide. 

She knows that in order to stay out of the program, she must conceal her depression from her family and school. One of her friends, Lacey, has already been taken away by the program. This causes Lacey’s boyfriend, Miller, to attempt suicide due to his depression from his memories with Lacey being erased from her mind. Young shows the true pain that Sloane and her friends go through, in that very moment, when she is let out as a new person.

He is successful with his attempt, which, in turn, causes Sloane and her boyfriend, James, to depend on each other because they are the only ones who understand each other. Unfortunately, that support doesn’t last, as they are both sent into the program. Sloane is forced to try and get through the program by herself without the support of her boyfriend. She has to make connections with people in her area in order to keep her sense of self that would otherwise be taken away by the program, which I find makes the story quite moving. She must deal with her own mental health, keeping herself safe from creepy employees of the program and find out who is truly trying to help her.

The author, Suzanne Young, started this book series in 2013. There are currently six books in the series as of 2021. She is the author of more Young Adult novels like “Girls With Sharp Sticks,” “All in Pieces” and “Hotel for the Lost.” The first two stories focus on Sloane and her journey then move on to a new storyline with new characters. 

This book gives a riveting impression on society that some teens seem to make their mental health internal in order to protect themselves from outward forces. Mental health is still somewhat stigmatized in society, but the idea that teenagers are put under so much surveillance in order to prevent suicide is disturbing. The message of the book is to represent the consequences of not sharing one’s feelings. The program is trying to keep the number of teen suicides down, but isn’t actually helping the teenagers within the society. It gives such a deep rooted issue light, which I believe gives the story amazing depth. 

There are other parts to this enthralling series. If you want a story that brings more of an interesting notion on how mental health is seen in society, then this is the series that will keep you reading. And as the book states, “The only cure for the epidemic is The Program.”