Offering a frightening look at our possible future, The Program by Suzanne Young is as thrilling as it is emotionally poignant.
Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.
Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them.
Young’s writing is, as usual, breezy and natural. The teen voice shines through, while engaging readers in the raw emotion behind each choice the narrator makes. The Program would not be nearly so compelling, I think, without Sloane’s narrative as written by Young. She draws you in and refuses to let loose.
Likewise, the complexities of writing a story about a young woman whose memories (the fabric of her very identity) are being erased should not be ignored. Young masterfully takes the reader on this horrific journey with Sloane, letting us both witness and vicariously experience her trauma. It’s chilling and haunting and horrifying to consider — and Young makes you feel it down to your very core.
In a world where teen suicide has become an epidemic, the only “cure” is found in removing “infected” teens’ memories. But as the story unfolds, readers will find themselves asking: is the Program really a cure, or is it the cause of this epidemic? And what’s more, The Program begs the question: can the heart remember what the mind forgets?
The Program is a gripping tale that will have readers hanging onto every word, and eagerly anticipating the sequel. It is in stores April 30th.