Three middle school girls, loosely connected by their various roles in a school bullying incident, narrate the stories of their lives.
Krista stops attending school and develops a dangerous addiction to diet pills after mean-girl Chelsea posts unflattering photos of Krista around their school. Frustrated by the school’s lack of visible advocacy for Krista, her sole friend, Tessa, creates a series of posters that highlight Krista’s talents—and her absence. Tessa’s campaign successfully engages the school community, providing Krista with much-needed support. Interspersed with the scenes related to bullying are explorations of each girl’s life outside of school: Krista and her father’s reliance on fast food while her mother works, Tessa’s grief over her father’s death during military service in Afghanistan, and Chelsea’s involvement with an abusive drug dealer in an attempt to fill the emotional void created by her selfish mother. Unfortunately, these girls sometimes feel like stock characters, but they do so only because they so accurately represent the reality of many teens’ lives. Middle school readers, in particular, will connect with multiple moments in the story, which ultimately offers some hope that Krista will recover with support from friends and health professionals. Chelsea’s fate is much darker and includes a frightening scene suggesting she is being sexually exploited by the drug dealer.
The characters’ unhappiness and hopes will resonate with many readers. (Fiction. 10-14)