4 Stars/ Grade A
*E-book provided by Viking and Netgalley*
This book is not an easy read nor a light read, but it is a fast read. Maybe it was fast because I could not put it down. I started it one a Tuesday and finished it very early Wednesday morning. I needed to know what would happen and I felt completely invested in the characters. The audience targeted for this book is definitely young adult and the subject matter is mature young adult. But I think it still can appeal to adults, it appealed to me. This book rocketed me right back to my high school years. Susane Colasanti has a talent to put the reader directly in the main character’s shoes and make the reader feel — feel the torment, pain and joy that Noelle is going through.
Noelle is a neglected child. The neglect leads to serious grooming problems and this causes her to be a bully target at school. Colasanti captures perfectly what it feels like to be bullied, what it feels like to be helpless. Many times in this novel I was on the verge of tears for Noelle.
My only complaint about this novel is that in a way it read like an after school tv special. I do understand the author had an agenda when writing this book and that agenda is a good one. But the after-school-special-like feel of the book, pulled me out of the story occasionally. My other complaint is the tying together of the neglect and the bullying. I do see the connection, particularly in this book and it was done well but parental neglect is not the only cause of bullying. Children can be targets for a variety of reasons, but I don’t feel like the author was saying this was the only reason Noelle was a target. Noelle’s victim situation is clearly tied to her mother’s neglect, which is a heartbreaking situation in itself without the bullying. One last thing about the book, I found it unrealistic. I know Colasanti was trying to instill hope and pass a long a message that things get better — which they definitely do! I am just not sure that things get better while still in high school. In the end, the messages of not backing down, seeking help, reaching out to friends and teachers, not giving up and not surrendering power to bullies are excellent ones.
This was a quick read, an inspiring book and emotional connection. I recommend this book for all high school kids and adults who are interested in this subject matter.
Thank you to Viking and Netgalley for a review copy of this book.
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