Hope is one of the most powerful human forces. It’s the light we follow out of darkness, the promise of change just beyond the horizon that keeps us from abandoning our journey before we’ve reached our destination. Without hope, it’s difficult to imagine persevering through life’s many burdens.

In her debut novel Read This Story All the Way Through (Barnes & Noble Press), Anna Georgoulas takes on the realities of hopelessness and the sensitive subject of suicide with a story that rewards readers who follow through to the end.

The past few years have been tough for 17-year-old Max — his three-year-old sister died, leaving his mother has been inconsolable; his girlfriend cheated on him with their teacher and is now pregnant; he lost his job and has spent his last three summers in school. He laments, “Most days, the very air I breathe feels like it’s clinging to my body and making me drag it around.”

He feels like life isn’t worth all the grief he’ll have to endure to keep on living it. He doesn’t think he’ll ever “find an important cure or be president or get rich or travel anywhere.” As far as Max is concerned, there’s no reason for him to keep going.

So, Max is going to kill himself — that’s the plan anyway.

The date is set — New Year’s Eve — but as Max’s countdown begins, he meets the beautiful and chaotic Jane. He can’t explain why, but he feels drawn to her. And after learning she’s stuck in an abusive relationship with no family to turn to, Max knows he has to help her.

As his countdown continues, Max and Jane find themselves on a road trip headed to New York City. Along the way, they meet a cast of characters — a father trying to get home, a runaway, and a psychic or two — each with their own stories and advice to share. What begins as a spontaneous last hurrah before the new year becomes an earnest search for reasons to save himself.

Written as Max’s journal, Read This Story All the Way Through steps inside the mind of a teenager struggling with depression and considering what he believes to be his only escape route. Georgoulas has dedicated her book to “anyone looking for reasons … to go on — because everyone deserves to have a few.”

Although on the outset a tragic exit seems appealing to Max, it’s clear that his plan, which he divulges to both the reader and Jane, is a cry for help, making this novel not a cautionary tale but a story of hope for those who, as the title suggests, read it all the way through.

Read This Story All the Way Through is available for purchase.

About Anna Georgoulas:

Anna Georgoulas always knew she wanted to be a writer in one way or another. What started as poems in the margins of her notebooks in class, short stories she shared with family, and unfinished word documents with ideas about characters and settings for someday stories, has paved the way for the start of her professional career as a published author. Read This Story All the Way Through is an ode to the people she knows and loves (or tolerates), who may be needing reasons to go on — because everyone deserves to have a few.