FICTION

Backlash

336p. Scholastic. Mar. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545651264; ebk. ISBN 9780545651271.
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Gr 7 Up—For sophomore Lara Kelly, things are finally looking up—she's feeling more confident after losing weight and she made the varsity cheerleading team, which she never would have imagined two years earlier when she was overweight and severely depressed. Best of all, Lara has caught the attention of a cute guy on Facebook, and he has been hinting at asking her to the homecoming dance. But when she sees horrible comments from her crush on social media, she spirals into a dangerous mental state and suicide seems like the only escape. Bree is Lara's former best friend from middle school, but they drifted apart when Bree couldn't take Lara's depression and self-involvement. The new Lara is suddenly getting everything that Bree is supposed to have—the popularity, and even the spot on the cheer team. Sydney and Liam are the younger siblings, who are caught up in the horror of a tragic event, and trying to figure out how to cope with their siblings' issues while living their own lives. This novel thoughtfully balances the four alternating perspectives, giving an element of humanity even to the perpetrators of severe bullying while maintaining a strong moral judgment. The writing and pace may not be compelling enough for reluctant readers, and there are disturbing scenes portraying bullying and severe depression. However, it's an accessible complement to an anti-bullying curricula that would serve as a good starting point for discussion of ethics with teens. Share with fans of Lane Davis's I Swear (S. & S. 2012).—Tara Kron, School Library Journal
Fifteen-year-old Lara's cyberbullying-provoked suicide attempt leaves no one unscathed. First-person narration shifts between Lara, her ex–best friend, and each girl's eighth-grade sibling as they recount the events that led to the bullying and experience its aftermath. An unusually nuanced look at bullying's effects on whole families, in which all characters are flawed yet none are vilified.

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