Published by St. Martin's Griffin on January 5th 2010
Genres: Contemporary, YA
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Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard—falling from it is even harder. Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High... until vicious rumors about her and her best friend's boyfriend start going around. Now Regina's been "frozen out" and her ex-best friends are out for revenge. If Regina was guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day. She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past who she herself used to bully. Friendship doesn't come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend... if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don't break them both first.
Tensions grow and the abuse worsens as the final days of senior year march toward an explosive conclusion in this dark new tale from the author of Cracked Up To Be.
If you would ask me point blank if I enjoyed reading this novel, my answer would be no. Because can you really enjoy something that hurts so much? Can you find delight in something that pisses you off so much? Now, if you asked me if this novel is one that needs to be read? Not only is that answers yes, but I would also add that this is a story that I’m thoroughly thankful for. It shines the most brutal light on bullying, not giving us a choice to look at it first hand. To experience the pain, the remorse, the emptiness that our protagonist feels. And Courtney does this in a way that ambushes you, with a narrator who was once a bully herself; a girl who has done to others what is now being done to her, yet you find it in yourself to forgive her no matter how much you thought you would never want to.
Regina was a bully – before she was the bullied. She once tortured a girl to the point of making her suicidal. She did terrible, revolting things. I completely hated her for who she used to be. Yes, I hated our protagonist from the very start, and you likely will too, at first. When a rumor makes her the school pariah, I wasn’t sad to see her finally taken down a notch. She reminded me of some of the bullies at my high school, and I would lie if I said I’d feel sorry if they had gotten a taste of their own medicine. But then… I didn’t feel that way anymore. If anything, I felt empty. I just wanted it all to stop. Getting humiliated is one thing, but what Regina goes through in this novel is not anything anyone deserves. I only wanted her to get a freaking break. Then, I became angry. Angry in a way that made me see red. So much so that Regina’s small victories against her own bullies became major sources of pleasure. What this says about me, I’m afraid to know, but nothing made me happier than to see her slap the bitch! This drive to do something is a big part of what I loved about this novel; even though there were often better solutions, Regina doesn’t just sit there and take it.
In the end, yes I forgave her. I think she fully deserves the guilt that she will forever have to live with, but I also believe she’s now a better person. She grew from this experience and learned from it a great deal. Still, forgiving her was not easy for me, but Courtney has a way of making you feel… completely at a loss for this person who’s so strong that you want to cry and collapse for them while they’re somehow staying upright under this cruelty. Then, after all of that pain, after each page that amplifies this overpowering need to see justice… it just ends. IT ENDS! RAAAAAAWR! *takes my rage out on various household objects.*
Oh Courtney Summers, you love making a mess out of me AND my house!
*Goes off to meditate*
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