The Program Thesis

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In the book,”The Program.” by Suzanne Young, Young begins with the protagonist,a seventeen year old named Sloane Barstow, who witnesses her classmate, Kendra Phillips, being taken away by a handler during school. Kendra Phillips is terrified and barely hanging on to reality. Two years ago, Sloane's brother, named Brady, committed suicide and six weeks earlier, her friend Lacey was taken by “The Program” as well as her father because she was “sick”
In an attempt to manage with the constant monitoring of their reactions to all of this, Sloane, James Murphy, and their friend Miller try to cover their emotions and act normal. Sloane and James are dealing with Brady's suicide while Miller is trying to cope with the loss of his girlfriend, Lacey,
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The novel focuses on certain behaviours that make young people more susceptible to suicide - the inability to grieve in a proper way and the lack of understanding and empathy from adults. For example, instead of helping these young people to express the emotions they are feeling over the deaths of friends or coping with intense stresses and difficult situations, The Program's very existence is pushing these teens to bury their feelings, creating more problems. "There is a pamphlet for The Program sitting next to our phone in the living room --....But to me that paper is like a threat, always reminding me of the next step if I slip up. So I don't slip up. Ever."(Young 53
When Lacey returns, Sloane is horrified at what Lacey is, "washed out", hollow and empty. Unable to grieve properly for the loss of the girl she once knew, Sloane deliberately burns her arm on their gas stove so that she can cry in her own home, in front of her parents. "...And they fuss, letting me cry as long as I want because they think I was accidentally injured. They have no idea that I'm really crying for Lacey. For Brady. And most of all, for
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"I wish that there were blood stains or tears, something to outwardly show how hurt I am. But instead it's just a pair of jeans and a pink T-shirt. Something so painfully average that it makes me hate myself."In fact this leads to a paradoxical situation where teens would rather die than be admitted to The Program and lose their memories and their identity. One of the strongest themes in this novel is that of identity. Part of who we are is our memories of people, places and experiences. But when we lose our most important memories do we lose who we are? "But The Program steals our memories. They reset our emotions so that we're brand-new, never having been hurt or heartbroken. But who are we without our pasts?" Sloane tries to explain this to her mother when she tells Sloane that James admittance to The Program will save him."Do you really think Brady would have wanted his memory erased? Nobody wants this, Mom. No one wants to be numb. They're killing us!""No!" she yells back. "You're killing yourselves. They're saving you." "...It's not just James! They'll take out parts of me. Parts of Brady. I won't even know my friends. I won't remember why I love going to the river...It's because that's where James first kissed me. Did you know that? That's where he first told me he loved me. And now they'll take that from him and he won't remember. He won't even
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