Help! I’m Alive: A Novel

Basran, Gurjinder

  • A powerfully emotional story of four people touched by a teen’s death, award-winning author Gurjinder Basran’s Help! I’m Alive is a clear-eyed exploration of meaningful connection in the modern era

    After video footage of Jay’s death is shared on social media, a suburban Vancouver community is left to try to make sense of what happened to Jay and whether his death was an accident or a suicide.

    Help! I’m Alive explores the aftermath through the eyes of four people all suddenly confronted with who they have been and how they should be in the wake of such loss. Jay’s former best friend, Ash, wonders what happened to their friendship and questions the relationships he has now; Winona, Jay’s troubled girlfriend struggles with guilt and abandonment; Anik, Ash’s older brother, is on a search for the meaning of life but hasn’t left his basement apartment in months; and Pavan, Ash and Anik’s mother, finds Jay’s death lays bare all her personal and maternal anxieties.

    Unflinching but life-affirming, Help! I’m Alive is a Gen Z and Gen X coming-to-terms story about loneliness and connection, love and suffering, and the moments that bring us together and drive us apart.


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  • Gurjinder Basran is the award-winning author of two previous works of fiction. Her debut novel, Everything Was Goodbye, won the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize and her work regularly appears on must-read lists. Basran studied at Simon Fraser Universities Writer’s Studio and lives with her family just outside of Vancouver, British Columbia.

  • Published: May 2022

    ISBN: 9781770416307

    Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5 in.

    Pages: 240


“Rather than exploiting suicide for character development, Basran opts to probe fractures in the oldest, closest relationships and the beautiful fragility of new ones. Each character is distinct, drawn with such detail that readers will find it easy to empathize with them. Help! I'm Alive is a masterful examination of what it means to be human, to hope and to connect.” — Shelf Awareness

“Basran sensitively examines four characters with their own sets of psychological struggles, all of whom gradually and to a believable degree begin to move past them and open up, offering a hint of hope to the reader.” — Booklist

Help! I’m Alive doesn’t exploit the despair that can lead to suicide but instead asks its characters and readers to look at the ways they connect — or don’t — in modern society … Basran’s insight, voice and deep character work make this an affecting read.” — Shelf Awareness

“The undoubted success of Help! originates with writing elementals. Basran’s artful management of them — distinctive characters (witty, loving, conflicted, capable-but-stymied) on expertly-paced quests (peculiar, quirky, lovingly rendered, intriguingly resolved) in a contemporary Canadian setting (whose issues, conflicts, frailties, strengths, and knotted complications are immediately recognizable) — is clear from start to finish. It’s fiction to enjoy as storytelling, sure, but as impressive, it’s an elegant story to consider as a bracing, deep, and useful meditation on the (pre-pandemic) here and now.” — The BC Review

“A satisfying drama.” — Publishers Weekly

“Gurjinder Basran brings a laser-focused intensity to the interactions and concerns of alienated teens, the cruelties and generosities of friendship, intimacy and family, the ‘small interventions’ that make life bearable. ‘When we’re the luckiest we don’t even know it’s happening,’ she writes. By the end of Help! I’m Alive, though, that is no longer true; having come through a terrible ordeal, these flawed but compelling characters have found the grace notes to guide them onward in their journey.” — Rachel Rose, author of The Octopus Has Three Hearts

“Gurjinder Basran sensitively and authentically explores the challenges of death and of living on.” — Desi News

“Basran’s bravery in looking directly on the most anxious, personal, and unanswerable questions that simmer under the surface of both community and individual pays off in a book that feels deeply truthful. Her elegant storytelling exposes the raw edge of grief and loss while uplifting the resilience of the human heart in even the most destabilizing moments.” — Open Book