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.
I remember a fellow book blogger raving about this book a couple of years ago. Both the title, the cover and blurb stood out to me back then and apparently left an impression, because when I accidentally stumbled upon 'The Program' at the library, I just knew I had to read this.
I'm not sure it completely lived up to my expectations of it. Meaning that reading the book didn't really have the same impact on me as I thought it would - or as hearing about it when it first came out did.
That being said, the story is pretty brilliant. Not only does it raise the issue of mental health, it also pinpoints one of the main issues surrounding mental health: it's not talked about enough. Whether this has to do with shame, misconceptions, fear or the lack of trust, the topic is still too much of a taboo.
In Sloane's world The Program controls everything and with the threat of taking all their memories away, it suppresses Sloane, or anyone else, showing true emotions and honesty. So with the notion of The Program facilities, the yellow scrubs and horrible pills, this story is set in a different reality... but to me, this reality created by the Program is in a way an enlargement of how people struggling with mental health issues or depression may feel suppressed, stigmatized or scared to show honesty.
It's a powerful message, mixed with a touching story about how some connections run deeper than remembering anecdotes, how remembering a feeling can be just as powerful as remembering certain truths. How people can still find their way back to each other despite obstacles thrown in their way.
So even though I don't feel the typical post-reading-YA-series-addiction, I'm really happy I read this book and I'll be very tempted to pick up the next books in the series to find out more about what happens to Sloane and James after The Program.