Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 12
- Grade: 8 to 12
- Reading age: 12
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.
Set in Florida, against a backdrop of anti-death-penalty activism, The World Without Us examines one girl’s choices in a world where the stakes are very high and one misstep can hurt—or even kill—you.
About the author
Robin Stevenson is the award-winning author of more than 25 books for kids and teens, including the board book Pride Colors, the picture book Ghost’s Journey: A Refugee Story and the nonfiction books Kid Activists and Pride: The Celebration and the Struggle. The first edition of her nonfiction book Pride: Celebrating Diversity & Community (2016) won a Stonewall Honor and was shortlisted for numerous other awards. Robin lives in Victoria, British Columbia, where she attends Pride celebrations with her family every year, but always leaves her dog safely at home.
"Compelling and emotionally honest, this story probes the complex relationship between the psychology of teen suicide and survivor guilt, skillfully 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 blog
"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...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...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, such as fans of Patricia McCormick and Sonya Sones."
School Library Journal
"Stevenson has a knack for bringing thought-provoking tales to young readers...The World Without Us delves into issues with which young people might be dealing: grief and guilt, suicidal thoughts, friendship and love...Stevenson reminds us in her eloquent text that the fictional can become reality in a split second and with just a slip of time or even a misstep."
CanLit for Little Canadians blog
"Because the story does not conform to clear cut relationships or dimensions, the plot is believable...The World Without Us is a great read and focuses on a topic that deserves attention."
"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...Deals sensitively with a tough issue."
"Complex topics are handled in a compelling way that will appeal to upper middle school, junior high, and early high school readers."
"A discussion of this book in school curriculum would be important in raising awareness of teenage suicide and prevention."
"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."
Other titles by Robin Stevenson
Queer History A to Z
100 Years of LGBTQ+ Activism
Kid Olympians: Summer
True Tales of Childhood from Champions and Game Changers
True Tales of Childhood from Changemakers and Leaders
True Tales of Childhood from Inventors and Trailblazers
The Celebration and the Struggle
A Refugee Story
My Body, My Choice
The Fight for Abortion Rights
LGBTQ2 Writers on Coming Out and Into Canada