First Lines: Julian Porter is blocking me. The blocking is probably unintentional. He sits two rows behind me in Spanish. We have to use the same aisle to get to our desks. I know he’s already been to his desk because his notebook and pen are sitting on it. Maybe he forgot something in his locker.
It’s been a really long time since I’ve read one of Colasanti’s books. It’s an accidental streak, I swear. I just don’t read realistic fiction very often and when I do, I can never remember which one of her books I’ve read before. Ok, that sounds bad. But it’s because I love looking at the covers and that’s really the main way I remember which books I’ve read before.
Noelle’s life has been hard. Every day in school, she’s bullied. Her mom neglects her at home. Noelle’s best friend has no idea how bad things are because Noelle keeps it all a secret locked inside her. She’s so used to keeping secrets that when her crush Julian Porter begins paying attention to her, she’s terrified. She doesn’t think she can let anyone in. But when the antagonism against a classmate reaches its crescendo, Noelle realizes she has to stand up for herself, and just keep holding on.
I was one of the lucky ones who was never really bullied in school, and I’ll admit that. I was in that weird place socially where I was smart and respected for it, but I wasn’t popular or a social outcast. I didn’t really have a place that I felt comfortable in. But I knew that most people tended to forget about me or overlook me. I wasn’t a good target for them.
And as someone wanting to be a teacher, this book has been truly enlightening for me. Noelle’s life sucks. It’s not just the bullying she has to worry about. There’s also her no-good, deadbeat mom at home that forgets to take care of Noelle. Every day is a struggle for Noelle.
I thought the subject matter was handled well and in a way that really connects with readers. Even though I’d never been bullied like Noelle was, I could absolutely imagine how awful that was for her. And, worse, how terrible it would be when no one steps in to stop it.
I really liked the characters in this story. Noelle’s fantastic. I loved watching her grow throughout the story. Noelle’s physics teacher was another favorite of mine because she was so fun and spunky. I just got the impression as I read that these were real people, with real stories that we didn’t always know was behind them. Does that make sense? Like in life, we meet people, but we never know everything going on in their life.
Anyway, I thought this book handled a really rough subject in a way that was inspiring and thought-provoking. It’s not always about the people who are bullied, but also the people who witness the bullying and the bullies themselves. We all need to take a stand against bullying when we see it.
I’ve read some reviews where people thought the ending was cheesy or whatever, but I really think that kids who are struggling with bullies really need to hear those words. …Or read them, I guess I should say. Yes, there are some parts that are cheesy or cute, but you really need those to bring some levity to the story.
Overall, I thought it was an emotional story that can really connect with its audience.
(Also, I got this from Susane Colasanti about my review.)