If Noelle can just hold on until graduation, she might finally escape the school bullies and her neglectful mother. But when the bullying goes too far, she must choose whether to run away or finally stand up for herself.
Caught between her miserable existence at school and a home life that is at best impoverished and at worst abusive, Noelle believes if she can just keep her head down, she can escape to the city, where her life will really begin. Unfortunately, the brutal bullying, her mother’s refusal to buy food and a boyfriend who only wants to make out in secret are making it hard for her to stay hopeful. When she is offered a position on the lit mag and her crush, funky Julian Porter, asks her out, Noelle wants to believe that things are finally turning around. Then one of their classmates commits suicide, and Noelle is determined to make sure everyone knows the truth. The familiar story of bullying is elevated by Colasanti’s smart dialogue, quirky characters and richly layered plot. Readers will engage intellectually and emotionally with each character, and the countdown toward graduation that marks every chapter heightens Noelle's desperation to escape. The high level of craft in the writing even makes the cloying and overly earnest ending forgivable.
Emotionally satisfying from beginning to end. (Fiction. 12 & up)