My Life-Affirming Alternative to “13 Reasons Why”

The novella Brooklyn’s Song by Alexis Zinkerman

A few weeks ago I published the post Stunned by Alexis Zinkerman’s Metronome – my post title says it all. Please read it if you haven’t had a chance yet.

After I read Metronome, I bought Alexis’ novella Brooklyn’s Song and I wrote a review that doesn’t begin to do it justice, especially since I was repeatedly interrupted by my girls while attempting to focus.

Their crisis? They were in need of a special medicine called ice cream. (I need to fix the broken lock on my door!) At least I can always improve the review later on. In the meantime, I’ve included it in this post.

Here’s a sidenote:  I haven’t watched 13 Reasons Why on Netflix nor have I read Jay Asher’s book, and I have no plans to do so. I rarely read or watch anything about suicide because I’m too triggered. While my intuition told me to steer clear of 13 Reasons Why I sensed Alexis would create a work that wouldn’t trigger me, and I was right. 

Brookyln’s Song –A novella by Alexis Zinkerman/5 star review

The heartwrenching topic of teen suicide has recently been covered in film, television, and young adult fiction more than it ever has before. Some of these endeavors are sensitively produced. However, other productions are harmful – they sensationalize teen suicide, depriving young people of realistic role models and situations.

Alexis Zinkerman’s outstanding novella Brooklyn’s Song was ahead of its time when it was first published in 2012 under the title Crazy Tragic Magic Life. Few books have ever addressed teenage suicide in such an insightful, wise manner.

The novella’s unique literary style is ideal for conveying the gravity of the subject matter without overwhelming the reader. At just eighty-eight pages, Brooklyn’s Song is the perfect length for depicting the journey of a teen’s grief over a great loss.

In concise, moving poetic stanzas, fifteen-year-old protagonist Brooklyn shares her shock of losing her best friend to suicide.

The reader is immediately drawn into the narrative from the first page. Brooklyn’s best friend Emily is still alive, and she reveals a secret to Brooklyn while the girls are attending a special event. The scenario quickly changes into one of tragedy.

As Brooklyn begins to move through the stages of grief, she’s resistant to therapy, but she gradually learns that counseling can help her a great deal. In a refreshingly unexpected way, Brooklyn utilizes the creative expression of writing to help her heal. Ultimately, Brooklyn begins to feel hopeful about the future again.

In each intriguingly titled chapter, Brooklyn reveals different sides of her personality. She describes her vulnerability, her loneliness as a high school student, and her burgeoning confidence in her writing. After some time has passed, she chronicles her exciting relationship with her first boyfriend.

Despite the harrowing storyline, I didn’t want to put it down – I couldn’t wait to find out what happened to Brooklyn!

Brooklyn’s Song is an artfully nuanced book. The novella reminded me of my favorite author Madeleine L’Engle’s classic A Ring of Endless Light in significant ways. Each author writes vividly, powerfully, and in a pragmatic manner. The two books’ complex-yet-clear storylines appeal to teens and adults alike. Each work grapples with the theme of suicide, the death of a beloved, and how death affects a sensitive, inquisitive teenage girl. Hope is woven throughout Brooklyn’s Song and A Ring of Endless Light, making these books truly worthwhile reads.

Brooklyn’s Song is a book I want my two daughters to read. It is a book I wish I had read when I was a teenager before suicide touched my life firsthand. This book rings true; at age thirty-three, Zinkerman was affected by suicide when her best friend took her own life. Because of that heartbreaking experience, Zinkerman was galvanized to write Brooklyn’s story.

I’m thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to read this beautifully written book. I highly recommend Brooklyn’s Song to anyone interested in how it’s possible to move forward in life after an a unimaginably painful loss takes place.

I’ll be back next week to share with you how my very first book interview turns out. I’m nervous, especially since I did a little virtual snooping homework on the journalist who has been assigned to interview me. Things were looking great until that changed. That’s all that’s fit for print…for now, that is. Stay tuned. 😉 

Purchase the paperback edition of Brookyln’s Song on Amazon at this link.

Author Alexis Zinkerman

Check out Alexis’ mental health website A Mile A Minute – Refreshing Takes on Mental Health here. (Great blog title, isn’t it?)

Take care, my wonderful kindred spirits!




All photos courtesy of Alexis Zinkerman


Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th, 2017. It’s available now on Amazon for paperback pre-sales, Kindle pre-sales will be available this summer.


24 thoughts on “My Life-Affirming Alternative to “13 Reasons Why”

  1. Wonderful book review and blog post, Dyane. So glad you found Alexis and introduced her work to us. Hope you, Craig, and your girls are well.

    • A super-belated thanks, dear Kitt! We’re doing well – fingers and toes are crossed as I write that! I’m very happy you appreciate Alexis’ work – I knew you would since you have fine taste. Hope you enjoyed (or will enjoy) listening to David Leite’s IBPF webinar this morning! That’s super-awesome he left all those comments on your blog post! I’ll listen to his talk in the IBPF archive when I walk Lucy – I’m sure it will be fascinating.

    • Thanks so much for stopping by & for your comment!
      Alexis’ book was easy to read, despite it being about such a serious subject – it flowed very well.
      That’s awesome you enjoy reading – only the coolest people are on the constant lookout for new authors. 😉
      Take care & I’m sending you absolute best. Xo

  2. Very insightful as usual, Dyane. Also congrats on being the featured author over at NAMW
    (National Association of Memoir Writers)! Hurray for you !!!!

    • Hi Martha, I’m finally writing back! I’m sorry it took forever! 😉 I’ve been lazy. (That’s the truth, ha ha!)

      Thanks for the congrats on the NAMW featured author – all I did was fill out the online form, LOL!
      But it felt good to have that happen all the same – you should apply for it too, that is, if it appeals to you!
      (No pressure….) I had to be in a certain mood to simply fill out the form. You know how it goes sometimes…
      Take care & keep in touch, my dear.
      Your steady support has been so wonderful, and I appreciate you!

    • Thanks Cass!
      I’m sorry it took me a week to reply – as I shared with my friend/neighbor/memoirist Martha who commented below, I’ve been lazy!

      Some weeks I’m much lazier than others. An astrology-loving friend of mine told me my increased apathy has been due to the stars & planets. Who knows!?!?! 😉

      Sending you a hug from afar, and I hope you and your family are doing well!

  3. Where can I read your featured article on NAMW captain? Thanks for posting, am reassured you are in there. All the best with your interview… Breathe count to 30 if you must then shoot for it with audacity and sincerity…drop in humour and even a tear who knows what empathy or sympathy that may bring? Lol

    • Hey, sweet Marie!
      The NAMW is just my picture bio – (just scroll all the way down once you reach this link:

      I’ll do as you advise regarding the interview, which got rescheduled for next week.
      I’m glad it’s on the phone – I’m not quite ready for face to face yet.
      Hopefully soon!
      to you and yours…..

      p.s. I loved tweeting your latest post – I was happy to do it- that’s a beautiful picture of you as
      mental health advocate!

    • Thanks very much, Carol!
      The interview has been rescheduled for next week and I’m sure it’ll be fine. Gulp. 😉

      I wish I was over on Shetland right now with Lucy by my side.
      Her fur is so incredibly thick that I think she’d be super-warm! I hope you’re having a marvelous evening.

    • Thanks so much! I’m glad I didn’t feel the need or “pull” to watch something like 13 Reasons.
      The interview was rescheduled for next week, so at least I’ll have something to write about a week from Friday, LOL! 😉

      Take care, beautiful Michelle. Xo

      • Mike and I thought 13 reasons was really good, even though it was unrealistic at its’ core.

        Kate Walsh from Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice played her Mom. She was unrecognizable.

        I covered my eyes as soon as she got in the bathtub. Don’t need to see.
        The big social message….or ‘Takeaway’ (So that you DON’T Need to bother watching 13 Reasons)

        Teens not confiding in their parents, friends or counselors when they’re about to end their lives. But then, as I remember, I didn’t tell my parents how miserable, lonely, fat, ugly and rejected I felt in high school.

        I was afraid they’d see me as a failure and be ashamed.

        I didn’t think they’d understand or be able to help.
        Instead of offing myself, I got into smoking pot and later, left it for volleyball.

        Endorphins. Illicit substances. Escaping via drama and literature.

  4. What a wonderful book review, Dyane – I’ve been meaning to comment on it since I first read your post, but one way or another it’s been a busy-busy few days.

    I really don’t think you need to edit this review – despite the ice-cream interruptions! If I was Alexis Zinkerman, I’d be delighted with it. You’ve given us a good flavour of the novel, without giving too much away, reassured us that this is a book that has been sensitively written and much more.

    Teen suicide is such a difficult subject, and for Alexis to have handled the topic in an ‘insightful and wise’ way, as you say, is praise indeed. And the fact that you would give it to your daughters to read when they’re older is a fine recommendation.

    I’m so sorry that you, and also Alexis, have been affected by the tragedy of suicide (what a terribly inadequate phrase that is). Suicide is often mentioned in fiction but very rarely approached with sensitivity. I read ‘All My Puny Sorrows’ by Miriam Toews last year, and I found it very moving, but I did wonder how anyone actually affected by suicide would feel about the novel.

    After your recommendation, I’ll be adding ‘Brooklyn’s Song’ to my TBR list. I hope all goes well with your interview. You’ll be fantastic! Looking forward to reading all about it soon xx

    • Dear Sara,

      I award you and Jean Lee (above) the Commenters Par Excellence Award!
      What is the prize?
      Well, I’m not sure yet, but I’ll brainstorm about it! 😉

      First off, please forgive the lengthy amount of time it took for me to reply. I’ve been lazy and tired this past week. Glaciers have moved faster than I have. But I’ll get back into the swing of things soon. Plus I sense you’re the forgiving type.

      I’m extremely glad you think the review of “Brooklyn’s Song” is sufficient! 🙂
      You made my day with that comment.
      (I’ve never read Miriam Toews’ books, but I’ve heard about her and her highly acclaimed work.)

      My phone interview has been rescheduled to next week, and I must admit I’m fine with that.
      It’ll be a breeze compared to what you’ve been through lately with television cameras and lights. etc.

      I wish I could take that fantastic course you took in London (I think it was there?) – the one you wrote about so vividly in your blog. Maybe I can take something similar to it around here if I can find such a course.

      I hope that whatever you’re up to, you’re doing well and having a good week! Thanks so much for keeping in touch across the many miles. I look forward to your next blog post as we move closer to your publication date. Woo hoo!!!!!!

      Take care!
      Your fan,
      Dyane 🙂

      • Thank you for your lovely reply, Dyane – it’s made my day. I’ve only just seen it, as I don’t seem to be getting any alerts for the comments on your blog posts at the moment. I think I must, yet again, have clicked something I didn’t mean to. I’m always doing that – I really don’t know what I’m doing half the time!

        Oh how I empathise with your glacier comment! I don’t seem to get anything done at the moment. I haven’t blogged for ages, even though I’m on my laptop all day long doing something or other – and everything I do on there seems essential at the time. I’m paddling hard and getting nowhere! Ah well, never mind. I’m glad to know it’s not just me.

        I’m sure your phone interview will go well. Yes, the course I took was in London and I’m sure there must be lots of courses like that near you. I found out about it because I’m a member of the Society of Authors here. Is there a similar organisation over with you? It was pricey to join, but their lawyers checked my publisher’s contract for free, so that made it worth the cost for me.

        Yes, my book launch is getting closer (June 10th). Somehow I’m still managing to stay relaxed about it – not sure that’ll last too much longer, though!

        All the best for your interview – you’ll be great! Can’t wait to hear about it.
        Sara xx

  5. Oh man, now I’m all intrigued and worried about what happened with that interview! Hugs to you for that!

    If I manage to get some work in during the waking hours, I have to do it at the kitchen table. Unless I’ve found something all three kids LOVE to watch, I’m inevitably bonked or whined at by someone…or one of them just flees out the door. This warm weather has sprouted wings on the boys’ feet, honestly, with all there “GO OUTSIDE!” shrieks and bolts out the door.

    But hey, you got through that interview, you’re still awesome and kickin’ ass, so no matter what happened, you’re now faster–ch ch ch–stronger–ch ch ch–able to…um…I forget how the bionic woman theme song goes, dangit! Back to the bean grinder…
    Lots of love and hope and more hugs,
    Java Jean

    • Lovely Coffee Queen, ☕️

      I’d like to award you and Sara Gethin (below) the Commenters Par Excellence Award!
      Pray tell, what is the prize?
      Well, I’m not sure yet, but I’ll brainstorm about it! 😉
      I suppose (for you) the prize could be several pounds of fabulous coffee, could it not? ☕️

      Re: Interview Schminterview
      The interview has been re-scheduled for next week. Hurrah ! Yes, I was relieved!
      I’ll definitely stop being so cagey about the details when I write about it in June!
      It’s not fair to only divulge a teeny bit of my dilemma to y’all….I know that.

      I need to go to the bean grinder. I am so exhausted today. I might actually take a nap, which is hard to do with two sisters and a noisy dog running around the house, but they can all be bribed. Just kidding! Well, maybe not!

      And I promise to catch up on your latest blog post this weekend. It has been one of Those weeks. 😱Scattered, not very productive, and most of all: lazy! 👀

      XOXOXOX to you!
      your ever-goofy Spy Dy🔭

      • Aw, SpyDy, I’m delighted and honored and all!

        And, I’m so #*$)# relieved this response stuck! I don’t know what the deuce was going on last week with responses, but I know Shey Moore lost her responses, and I lost some of mine, and one of them was whatever you wrote me before this time. Totally bizarro.
        This week is MY turn to be wonky. The term just started, so of course all 40 students are gabbing at once and I have to make sense of ALL of it somehow, because I’m not the nice teacher on the first day of the first term for many of these college freshmen. ugh.
        Hey, you’ll divulge when you’re ready. God-willing by then I won’t be so bloody frazzled. Back to the bean-grinder for me, too! 😀 We’ll get through this, we Percolatin’ Sisters. xxxxxxxxx

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