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The Program    by Suzanne Young order for
by Suzanne Young
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Program is a YA 1984. It's set in a near future where teen suicide has reached epidemic levels and has become such a serious problem that young people are watched and interviewed relentlessly - at home, at school and in social situations. Where depression is even suspected, a teenager is forcibly taken into The Program, to return changed forever.

Sloane's parents are particularly concerned because she saw her older brother kill himself. So she hides her feelings from everyone except her best friend Miller and her boyfriend (who was her brother's best friend) James. Like her peers, Sloane is terrified of being taken away, just like her friend Lacey was. She hopes to hold out (with James' help) till she turns eighteen and is no longer a minor.

But everything starts to fall apart. First Lacey returns from The Program a different person, and Miller tries to see her and gets into serious trouble. Then James shows signs of depression and is taken away. And, finally, it's Sloane's turn. Though she fights at every step of the way, they take her memories one by one, and even a new friend, Michael Realm, betrays her.

Eventually released, Sloane encounters James again, but they no longer know one another and have no memories of what they shared. Do they reconnect and rediscover their shared past? You'll have to read the novel to find out. But I recommend that you do; The Program is well worth your time. And its ending is open to interpretation; it will leave you guessing and hoping for more.

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