AUTHOR: SARAH BANNAN • CATEGORY: YA • PAGES: 345
Before Carolyn Lessing arrived, nothing much had ever happened in Adamsville, Alabama. Each week, at dinner tables and in the high school assembly, everyone would pray for the football team to win. Each year, the Adams High hotlist would be updated, and girls would rise and fall within its ranks. Each day, everyone lived by the unwritten rules that cheerleaders did not hang out with the swim team, seniors did not date freshmen and the blistering heat was something that should never be remarked upon. But then the new girl came.
All Carolyn’s social media could reveal was that she had moved from New Jersey, she had 1075 friends – and she didn’t have a relationship status. In beach photos with boys who looked like Abercrombie models she seemed beautiful, but in real life she was so much more. She was perfect.
This was all before the camera crews arrived, before it became impossible to see where rumour ended and truth began.
I think this book gives a very good insight into the world of teenagers and bullying. The writing style is quite different from anything I have ever read and the whole book is from the point of view of a nameless “we” who is one of the many girls that observes the rise and fall of Carolyn. Carolyn is the main character but we never see things from her perspective it is all observations and hearsay. This did make it hard to connect with her as person but in the same token made the story more relateable because there are so many times when opinions are based on a heard mentality and “he said she said”.
I feel that while the book came to an expected end it still plays an important role of highlighting the topic of bullying in a very realistic way. I have read other books that have the neat wrapped up in a bow happy ending and in many instances that is simply the stuff of fairytales. Yes, not all cases end like Carolyn’s (thankfully), but the bullies rarely get the guilt filled wake up call that fiction provides. It’s a shame that this is even a relevant topic in society today.
Overall Rating: ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼ ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼3/5 teacups
Where to buy a copy
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Happy reading x
A Note About My Personal Experience with Bullying:
I was bullied in my final year of school, only back then your simply a called it “being picked on” there was no official lable. I suppose I was in the popular group, but then I got a boyfriend and everything went to shit. My “friends” took issue with the fact I was seeing someone, despite their encouragment to do so. Go figure. Then he moved away. During that year I was called every name you can think of and apparently had a myriad of disorders as well. I was too fat, too thin, bulimic, anorexic, pregnant, a slut, a bitch and everything in-between. During that time I was diagnosed with a heart condition, so fun times all round. Bets were even made on my virginity and that was something that I couldn’t even fathom, and frankly I still can’t to this day. Seriously, these were my friends.
My grades suffered. I went from being at the top of the class in most subjects to middle of the road. I am so grateful that they didn’t slip too low and that I still was accepted into university. The teachers did nothing. I mean nothing. Chairs were moved in class by my fellow peers before class started so they were in one big group except, one in the corner, for me. The name calling happened in class, too my face, teachers present. The teachers never said a bloody word. It still makes me mad. They have a duty of care and they simply failed.
I did snap one day during my last week of school when a meeting was called for the girls in my year because another girl had been picked on for a week. The girl in question was the person who initiated all the bullying towards me and was relentless for that year. I was vice president of the Student Representative Council and my biology teach called me out in the meeting because I sat by while the girl in question was bullied and did nothing and I quote “given what has happened to you I am ashamed by your behaviour”. I was absolutely livid. I stood up and said “how can you say that after everything she did to me, she started it all”, she told me to sit down and I ‘miss never had a detention in 13 year’ told that teacher to “fuck off” and I walked out. I was a mix of feeling so much rage and freaking the hell out because I said that to a teacher. Guess what subject I had next period? Bloody biology… Needless to say I didn’t go to that class. I still wonder to this day if she ever regretted what she did that day and failed to do all the days previous. I certainly don’t regret my glorious fuck off moment.
I am so lucky that I wasn’t bullied in the digital age because at least I could go home and it would stop. I honestly don’t know of my fate would have been too dissimilar to Carolyns otherwise. There were many times when I simply wished myself away, I gave up and it felt that no one would care if I simply ceased to be. No one should ever be made to feel like that.
The bullies were horrible and to them it was sport. How funny it is to see someone you have been friends with since you were 5 completely shattered and broken. Yeah really fucking funny.
In the book there are just the nameless “we” and sometimes their failure to say anything was worse than the bullying itself. At the time I just wanted to scream at them, “I can see from your face you think what they are doing is wrong, why don’t you say something? If enough people said something it would stop!” In my opinion when it comes to bullying there are no innocent bystanders, for me they are just enablers. The boys, the other groups, by not saying something they are saying that it is ok. I understand that some people would be afraid of saying something due to fear of retribution, I get this really I do but if everyone said something it would stop. Silence is acceptance.
Since my experience I speak up and I will always speak up. I won’t let it happen to me ever again and I won’t stand idly by and watch it happen to others. I am not a sheep, I am a strong independent person. I believe in equality and kindness, and if you don’t then you have no place in my life. If you are in a situation where you are being bullied I urge you to talk to someone about it. I can look back now and say that I am a stronger person because of what happened to me, but I am also more pessimistic and much harder than I was. I don’t allow myself to wonder what journey my life would have taken if that year was different (or think about it much at all), because I am a very happy functioning adult and couldn’t give a stuff about what anyone else thinks about me. I almost didn’t publish this part but I am not ashamed about this part of my life any maybe it might help someone who is going through the same thing.
Be kind to one another,