Cyberbullying and a suicide attempt, told from four first-person perspectives.
The dramatic opening finds 15-year-old Lara, “numb with hurt and panic,” talking online with a boy named Christian, her first romance, though she knows him only online. He’s calling her awful, terrible, a loser he’d never take to a dance. “The world would be a better place without you in it,” he types and promptly blocks her. Next, Lara’s sister, Sydney, an eighth-grader, pounds on a locked door behind which Lara has overdosed. As emergency workers carry Lara out on a stretcher, next-door neighbor Bree (also 15) snaps a pic and posts it to Facebook, reveling in the many “likes” it draws. The timeline rewinds two months; Lara, Syd, Bree and Bree’s eighth-grade brother, Liam, alternate narrating. The two families used to be close, and Bree and Lara even used to be good friends. The prose is smooth, though the piece overall is more about ideas—cyberbullying and suicide—than any unique characterization of these white, suburban teens. The parents range from self-centered to actively cruel—Bree’s mother helps Bree fool and taunt Lara—and even Syd repeatedly considers her sister’s pain to be “drama.” The four-narrator structure isn’t entirely emotionally illuminating: Bree never quite makes sense as a character even in her own chapters.
More conceptual than distinct, but accessible and potentially useful. (author’s note) (Fiction. 12-16)