In Vicars’ debut YA novel, a teenager becomes a target of bullying when a nude photo surfaces online, and she takes it upon herself to discover who uploaded it and why.
Polarity Weeks is a sensitive 15-year-old girl with a love of poetry. Her mother suffers from borderline personality disorder—a condition that causes her to move the family frequently in a search for alternative cures. After they move to a small Texas town, bullies victimize Polarity at her new school. Eventually, a student unveils what appears to be a nude image of Polarity in class, but she has no idea where it came from. Authorities suspect her parents, and Polarity goes through a harrowing experience within the justice system as she’s taken from her home and placed in state care before finally being released to her grandmother. By the time she’s sent to an alternative school for teens with disciplinary problems, Polarity has had her eyes opened not only to her own unjust treatment, but to the injustice of a system that targets primarily minorities and those on the margins of society. When her budding love interest, Ethan, winds up in the alternative school after being framed on a drug charge, Polarity decides to get retribution for them both, and she returns to her old school with a newfound determination. Vicars shows how Polarity resists folding inward in order to become sensitive to the plights of the marginalized teens around her. When her parents get her perks at the alternative school, for example, she confronts them: “I’d rather ride the bus and eat the food than stand out as the privileged white girl who doesn’t have to follow the rules.” The author also presents many other dynamic characters; Polarity’s brilliant, troubled mother, for example, is hilarious and menacing, as when she goes on an ill-conceived attack against the principal, claiming that Polarity “was in a gluten-induced haze caused by the soap from the dispensers in your showers.”
A dazzling, richly textured YA debut.