Themes and Meanings

(Essential Studies in Young Adult Literature, Revised Edition)

Lynn’s notebook about David starts on September 27 and concludes with an entry on June 8. The central theme in About David is the effect of suicide on the loved ones left behind.

Lynn’s emotions, as she tries to understand why her oldest friend murdered his adoptive parents and then committed suicide, mirror the seasons during which she records them. During September and October, as the leaves become the most vibrant, Lynn is the most unsettled. Against the background of the bright reds, oranges, and yellows, Lynn wakes up shaking. Because the fall colors represent death, the worst for Lynn is when she wakes up from a peaceful dream about David: “It’s never easy to remember; it always takes a few seconds. And it’s like being told all over again. I feel it always in my stomach, a sharp intake of air, and then I feel lightheaded and disbelieving.” As winter sets in and everything is bare and barren, Lynn becomes hollow. “I was just left empty. I could almost hear the echo when my heart beat.” The next season, spring, when nature restores everything to life, reflects Lynn’s cycle of restoration. As in nature, where everything is not restored to its original status, Lynn’s restoration leaves her different: sadder, more understanding of the complex nature of life. June 8 is Lynn’s last entry, in which she says that she is at peace. It is almost summer, and nature has aroused everything that is to be awakened. Jeffrey is brought back to life; he has been provisionally accepted to Princeton University. He thinks that he has “some idea of what David went through,” and he has accepted what happened. Jeffrey is a symbol of something that was struggling to bloom during the last cycle and never quite made it. Nature has taken him under her protection and nurtured him all winter; Jeffrey will bloom larger and better than ever before. Lynn will also bloom differently: She will never allow herself to feel as she once did. Part of Lynn died with David, never to be reawakened.