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BULLY.COM by Joe Lawlor


by Joe Lawlor

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: April 1st, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-8028-5413-1
Publisher: Eerdmans

After being falsely accused of cyberbullying, a seventh-grade computer whiz must find the culprit.

Jun Li is short, smart and socially invisible. He believes in keeping his head down. He has one friend, his neighbor Chris Pine, a basketball player and the tallest girl in the class. He attracts attention when images of an eighth-grade classmate, a popular, model-pretty but tough and powerful girl named Kimmie Cole, are posted on the school’s website trumpeting the information that she’s bulimic. Since the pictures were sent from a library workstation and PC-savvy Jun was on the computer near the time of posting, he’s now under suspicion. In a setup that’s hard to buy but works anyway, Principal Hastings gives Jun one week to clear his name and find the real wrongdoer—or face expulsion. Aided by Chris, Jun begins to interview students and teachers. Suddenly, Jun is speaking to lots of people, and much to his surprise, he enjoys making social connections. The puzzle’s solution is well-plotted, and author Lawlor concludes it with the classic gathering of suspects for the big reveal. Secondary characters, unfortunately, are mostly mouthpieces with traits rather than flesh-and-blood individuals.

Despite the tepid characterizations and some stiff dialogue, a clever mystery. And the tag, in which Jun and Chris take on another case, signals more fun to come. (Mystery. 10-14)