A realistic, unflinching look at high school bullying and teenage redemption.
Nothing is going right for ninth-grader Jamee Wills: She’s failing algebra; her father has come home after a long absence to disrupt the family dynamic; her mother is pregnant again; her beloved grandmother passed away; everyone at school unfavorably compares her to her brilliant older sister, Darcy; her boyfriend, Desmond, expects her to go further sexually; and the one thing she loves—cheerleading—depends upon an improvement in grades she just can’t accomplish. Defying her algebra teacher and her parents, Jamee goes to tryouts to see if she can carve out a space for herself away from all the external pressure. What awaits her, though, is a serious dilemma: Should she ally herself with the cool, powerful, mean girls who rule the school, or stick up for Angel, an unassuming, timid but determined girl who’s had a difficult time in every school she’s attended? Navigating the treacherous waters of high school life leaves Jamee in danger of losing her friends, her boyfriend and any chance at making the cheerleading squad. The drama comes to a head when one of the cool girls takes and distributes a cellphone picture of Jamee and Angel together, which fuels vicious rumors and forces Jamee to confront the cool girls—and to potentially quit the squad. Author Folan (Breaking Point, 2010), whose Bluford series has garnered legions of loyal YA fans, pens an accurate representation of and respect for teenagers in a story that runs with a clear moral. Folan handles delicate emotional situations with care, and while sometimes she errs on the side of oversimplification, she steers the story back on its honest course. With bullying a hot-button issue in the media and at home, books like Folan’s, which dramatize the struggles faced by both kids and adults, are vital to the ongoing conversation.
A well-written, accessible examination of the very real and, sadly, very common experience of high school bullying.