Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 13 to 18
- Grade: 9 to 12
- Reading age: 6 to 10
Emerson Yeung seems to have every reason to be happy-- he gets good marks, has some friends, and has a part time job at his parents' dry cleaning business. But Emerson has been hiding something. The pressure to be the perfect son put on him by his parents that sometimes escalates into abuse from his father. This has led to a depression that leaves him roaming the city in the middle of the night.
When his phone is stolen and used to post racist threats toward the vice principal and a teacher at his school, Emerson gets suspended and is investigated by the police. Not seeing any way out of his situation, he plans to commit suicide. But Emerson manages to find help and to gain the strength he needs to deal with his life.
This novel is a realistic look at how a responsible teen can feel overwhelmed by life's pressures --and how personal and family tragedy can be averted.
About the author
JOHN CHOI lives in Toronto where he has worked as a child and youth mental health professional for over twenty years. Dark Side is his first novel.
"Many adults are wary of discussing suicide and depression with teenagers out of fear of encouraging teens to consider suicide. I myself believe that talking about issues demystifies them, and for that reason would suggest this book be put in the hands of any teen who's struggling with depression, academic pressure, or family violence. I also admire that Emerson is Chinese-Canadian, adding a little more diversity to YA literature and chipping away at some persistent stereotypes about Asian characters in books for teens.Dark Side is a strong novel for reluctant readers. I look forward to more sensitive, empowering books from John Choi."
"Good YA books about the struggle with depression and suicide, as well as cultural and generational barriers. I'd definitely recommend this for any junior high and high school library."
"Emerson is a realistic character with whom readers are likely to connect because they or someone they know may have been in a similar situation with feeling overwhelmed with school and life at some point... The book is likely to encourage readers to think critically about mental health and healthy family relationships. Dark Side is an engaging read that covers many serious issues which will hold appeal to a wide audience of teen readers. Highly Recommended."