An intense examination of bullying from a seldom-heard-from side: the bully’s.
After months of physical and verbal intimidation, stalking and cyberbullying, 16-year-old Emma Putnam hangs herself. Her classmates, high school juniors Sara Wharton, Brielle Greggs, and several of their friends are being held accountable for playing a role in Emma’s death. Sara narrates the story in chapters that alternate between the present and the two months leading up to Emma’s death. Readers will surely hate Sara from the start. She shows no remorse for tormenting Emma, the school “slut,” whom Sara sees as a threat intent on stealing her boyfriend, Dylan. Sara and Brielle launch a full-on campaign against Emma, with each “prank” more vicious than the last. After Emma’s death, the bully becomes the bullied, and Sara finds herself being made fun of, ignored and called a slut herself. She finds a friend in summer school classmate Carmichael, who is sympathetic to both Sara and Emma and who reminds readers there are two sides to every story. The moving story is informed by the 2010 bullying and suicide of Massachusetts teen Phoebe Prince and is bound to open up debate on who is to blame when a bullied teen commits suicide. Maciel includes an author’s note describing her decision to write the book as well as a list of anti-bullying resources.
An emotional, deftly paced and heartbreaking first novel. (Fiction. 14-18)