The World Without Us

world without us

Sometimes letting go seems easier than holding on.

What do you do when someone you care about wants you to follow him to a really dark place? Do you pull away? Do you help plan the trip? Or do you put your own life on the line in the hope that love will coax your friend away from the precipice? When Mel meets Jeremy, she thinks she has finally found someone who understands her, someone who will listen to her, someone who cares. But Jeremy has secrets that torment him, and Mel isn’t sure she can save him from his demons. All she knows is that she has to save herself.




The backdrop of autumnal Florida during a death row watch by Melody’s activist anti-capital-punishment mother provides rich context for the teens’ morbid curiosity, with a sweet counterpoint offered by Melody’s bright eight-year-old babysitting charge and her fascination with black holes. Stevenson skillfully plots the frequent scene changes through different time periods, revealing just enough at just the right times, and making her  protagonist’s voice ring true as a smart, skeptical, white middle-class teen. No worries about a pat, simplistic ending either; these are characters who will continue to learn, grow, and change beyond the end of these concise pages. Not too intense or depressing for its subject matter, this will have most appeal to upper middle school and early high school readers who like serious topics.” (School Library Journal)

“Mel’s first-person narration plunges readers into the action before flashing back to explore the excruciating pain that leads Jeremy to contemplate suicide…[Readers] will find the ways each teen views and handles death to be compellingly presented.” (Kirkus)

“Stevenson explores the complex psychology of suicide and survivor’s guilt through the lives of these realistic teens. There are no easy answers here, no miraculous recoveries. But there is hope.” (Booklist)

The World Without Us is a great read and focuses on a topic that deserves attention.” (CM Magazine)
“A discussion of this book in school curriculum would be important in raising awareness of teenage suicide and prevention.” (Resource Links)
 “Compelling and emotionally honest, this story probes the complex relationship between the psychology of teen suicide and survivor guilt, skilfully juxtaposed against the backdrop of capital punishment in present day Florida…Stevenson’s engaging storyline quickly draws the reader into the richly complicated lives of Mel, Jeremy, and their families…Complete with solidly drawn characters, moving dialogue, and a realistic, not-so-tidy ending,The World Without Us is an intense, astute exploration of love, death, self-discovery, heartbreak, and hope that will serve as a catalyst for earnest dialogue not only about mental health, but also the strength of the human spirit and how we define the meaning of life.”   (National Reading Campaign)