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What Made Maddy Run

(Little Brown & Co.)


The secret struggles and tragic death of an All-American teen.

Author: Kate Fagan

Genre: Biography

Reader Appeal: Teens; Mature Teens; Adult


There are some books that you know will stick with you.


Long after you’ve closed it, replaced the dust jacket, even lent it out, you’ll remember the story. What Made Maddy Run is one of those kinds of books. Not only that, but Kate Fagan skillfully opened my eyes to an issue that makes the news only after the fact: Suicide, specifically teen and early adult suicides.


Madison Holleran's story opens the door to problem that has been hidden far too long, a subject that demands more than a conversation. Mental health problems touch almost every single person in the United States and yet, it seems, we never are able to do enough to help our loved ones in need.

Maddy Holleran is not a typical teen. She was an elite student athlete. She had what appeared to be a perfect life--you only needed to check out her Instagram or Facebook to see that. She came from a traditional family, upper middle class, she had a lot of friends, was a good student and was recruited by top colleges because of her talent around the track.

Kate Fagan tells Maddy’s story with understanding and empathy. Through her social media, private letters and accounts from friends, Kate pieces together the last year of Maddy’s life without making Maddy a one-dimensional caricature, or making it a newspaper article with no heart. The story is hard to tell but I felt like Kate Fagan knew it was a story that had to be told.

Social media plays a big part of Maddy’s life, as it does for a lot of people. We only put on our Instagram what we want to world to see. The right angle, the right lighting, telling a story with our expression that we may have practiced in the mirror just to get it right. We control what we want others to see. When we socialize face to face it’s a little harder to control. Maddy’s friends and family could see that something was wrong. She was different, she was retreating into herself but she was in a huge transition in her life so her change was expected, even normal. College is a big adjustment for everyone.

According to the American College Health Association (ACHA) the suicide rate among young adults, ages 15-24, has tripled since the 1950s and suicide is currently the second most common cause of death among college students. Google college and suicide to see for yourself; the numbers are staggering.

So Kate Fagan has written Maddy's story, a book about a girl who commits suicide. Now what? What can any of us do?


For starters, consider supporting mental health initiatives in your community. When your kid goes to college, work to keep the lines of communication open, wide open. Talk to your son or daughter's friends and if you see a change in them, be brave and ask about it. Listen.  Have relationships outside of the computer and smart phone, get to know people. If you need help get it. As time goes on, more and more resources are available, college campuses are making great strides in changing their policies concerning mental health.

And read What Made Maddy Run. As difficult as the subject is, you'll be glad you did.

Let's Talk About It

Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this book:


• How does social media distort a person’s life? Do you think that social media exacerbates metal health problems? Could you quit all social media for any length of time?   


• Maddy had friends but she felt alone. Have you ever felt that way? What steps could you take to change the situation?


• Is there too much pressure put on students? Who is the pressure from? Why do you think there is that pressure?


 If you are depressed, please seek help. Do not be ashamed. Do not be afraid. You are valuable, and someone will help.

Suicide Hotline: 1-800-SUICIDE (2433) 

National Adolescent Suicide Helpline: 1-800-621-4000

Crisis Help Line – For Any Kind of Crisis: 1-800-233-4357

National Youth Crisis Support: 1-800-448-4663


All product-related graphics in this article are standard publicity/promotional shots and are owned by their respective publisher.

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