Author: Amanda Maciel
Book in five words: bullying, slut-shaming, dobble-standard?, horrible and amazing book.
When I first finished this book I wasn’t sure how to review it, so I went to Goodreads to read other reviews about it. Honestly, the reviews didn’t agree; some thought this book was awful, but others thought it was amazing, and most had good reasons for their reviews; good and bad. The result is that I still don’t know how to review this book, or what I really think about it….. If you knew me, you would know how rare it is for me not to have any idea what to say about a book. All I’m thinking is: hmm. Kind of like someone just punched me out of the blue and I wasn’t sure what to do about it. Am I supposed to hit back, or should I just take the punch? Is this what is called speachless?
There are two timelines in this book, they alternate chapters. One timeline starts in january, before Emma killed herself, the other timeline starts in july, when Sara is talking to a lawyer. The reason Sara is talking to a lawyer is because she is criminally charged for the bullying and harassment that led to Emma’s suicide. The story is told in Saras point of view (which made a lot of people stop reading the book because she is not a likable character). Most books (if not everyone) that I’ve read about bullying, the victim was the main character. Throughout the whole book we see Sara struggle with her life, and she asks so many times why she is being charged. Sara keeps saying that it wasn’t her fault, that Emma was the one to actually commit suicide. Sara says that everyone was saying things, that’s just how high school is.
It was somewhat disturbing being inside the head of a bully that didn’t understand that she had done anything wrong. That calling someone else a slut, and making fun of her, and having others join in on freezing Emma out and calling her things online and make a fake profile for her; Sara just didn’t get it. I think that’s what has a lot of people disliking the book. Honestly, that was part of what I liked about her. Sara didn’t all of a sudden realise that she had been in the wrong, and turned around. In Sara’s mind, she wasn’t a bully. Sara did what she did to be a part of the high school hierarcy, and to impress her best friend Brielle. And it wasn’t just Sara that talked about Emma, a lot of the other students did the same, but Brielle and Sara instigated it.
Sara was great with her little brothers though, she had to be a psudo-mom to them since their dad left. Her mother expects a lot from Sara, and gives her responsibilities. What stands out at one point in the novel is that Sara’s father tells her to take responsibility, grow up and stop acting like a child. Sara then tells him that she is, in fact, a child, and maybe she would have known how to grown up if anyone had ever taught her. This is a part of the book that I love. It’s great for young people to get some responsibilities, but they still need to be taught how to be a good adult. It’s the parents job, to make sure their child grows up to be someone good. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that it always works, but you can’t expect a child to know everything about how to behave if noone is there to teach them.
Wow, this is a long post (at least since I said I didn’t know what to say). Maybe I’ll just finish, but I will say that I think this would be an excellent book to discuss: bullying, sex, growing up, peer-pressure, slut-shaming, society, society’s unwritten rules, suicide and taking resposibility for what you do and say.
(As an afterthought; after Sara is charged with bullying and harassment, she doesn’t want to go out because everyone keeps staring at her and whisper about her, some even calling her names… I know, carma’s a bitch, but isn’t the society around her doing a lot of the same things to her that she is accused of doing to Emma?)
Has anyone else read this book? What did you think about it? Do you think Sara is a bad person for bullying Emma? What should she have done differently? What about the society, are they justified in how they act towards Sara after she has been charged?