Hope is a twelve-year-old girl who walks in on her fourteen-year-old sister, Liz, holding a gun, and contemplating killing herself. When Lizzie is institutionalize, Momma goes off of the deep end, even more so than when Daddy died. As Hope unravels the mystery as to why Liz would want to kill herself, she realizes that her Momma has secrets that she’ll go to any lengths to keep buried.
The biggest distraction for me while reading this
novel was the writing style. I have read Lynch-Williams’ The Chosen One (2009) and marveled at her beautiful, powerful, and poignant descriptive writing that draws the reader into the world of the novel and makes her connect so strongly with characters that she feels what they feel. Which is why this novel was a disappointment. I teach creative writing, and simply because someone can arrange a series of simple sentences into a poetic format does not make it good poetry. Not only that, but this format really took away from the “meat” of the story.
The story is told through Hope’s eyes as she
flashes back and tries to remember things about her sister, Liz. Unfortunately, the content of the novel is so sparse that the reader never feels like she gets to know Liz at all. Instead of connecting to Liz like I did Kyra (The Chosen One, 2009), I simply felt sorry for her for having the mother than she did. While I spent days agonizing over the events that happened to Kyra, I closed Glimpse (2010), said to myself, “Man, that mom was really messed up,” and, then, picked up The Perks of Being s Wallflower (1999) to shake off my annoyance.
I like reading books in verse. Some of my favorites are by Ellen Hopkins and Stephanie Hemphill. I also know that it’s becoming the new “fad”in the writing world. Unfortunately, not everyone can execute it well. This book should have been in prose and it would have blown everyone away. Description is Carol Lynch Williams’ strength.
John lives a life of survival. People look at him and see a quiet kid who goes through the motions, but no one really knows him. No one knows that he longs for a father who abandoned his family, he lives with “the man who is not my father” who beats him regularly, and he loves Glory Hallelujah who seems perfect in every way. The only one who sees through the façade is John’s band
director, Mr. Steenwilly, who encourages him to seek help when he notices bruises. Even though John knows what “the man who is not my father” will do if he ever tells, he finds strength in Mr. Steenwilly’s belief in him. Knowing that someone cares gives John the courage to fight back when “the man who is not my father” takes it too far and threatens to kill him.
Klass writes a very realistic portrayal of abuse and the secrets that victims carry with them out of very real fear. Told from the first person POV, and almost with a Faulknerian style, the reader gets to see events, people,
and John – himself – through an unfiltered lens. Also, the author refused to describe the main character so that it could be anyone. We make a lot of assumptions; however, we rarely know what’s really going on in people’s lives simply by looking at them - hence, the recurring theme of “you don’t know me.”
Although some people may find the stream of consciousness distracting, I felt as though it added authenticity to John’s voice by contrasting the John that people saw on the outside with the real John that lived inside of his head. Another aspect that added authenticity to this novel was that no one was perfect, and each person had their own version of reality.
The benefit of this novel is that it provides a window into young adults suffering from abusive homes. The goal isn’t to demonize the mother for not knowing, victimize John for suffering, or immortalize the teacher who tried to help. The goal of the novel, to me, was to show what the many facets represents. Kids don’t always act out when they’re in pain. Sometimes, they simply fade into he background. In fact, there’s a scene in the novel where Klass depicts an algebra class where students are so insecure about being called on that they purposefully wear clothing to blend in with posters on the wall. That’s what abuse victims do throughout life. If they become invisible, then the hope is that the abuser won’t be able to land that hit, and no one will be able to see the permanent bruises left behind.
McMillian High School has a new history teacher, and she causes quite a stir. Lori Settles is young, smart, and sexy. Sporting skin-tight clothing and stiletto heels, she quickly becomes the center of attention for every male in
the school. However, she sets her sights on her fifteen-year-old student, Ryan Piccoli. She makes plans to have him-mind, body, and soul. She's developed her plan and executed it perfectly, only she didn't expect someone to find out...
This novel deals with the taboo subject of teachers having affairs with their students. It addresses very real issues of "consensual" sex and when someone is considered a predator. It also introduces the very real conflicts that vistims feel when they try to work through the "love" that they have versus the violation that others tell them that has occurred. Unfortunately, the author
doesn't really address the after-effects of abuse as well as she could, which leaves the story incomplete.
When he was twelve, Josh Mendel had a very adult affair with his twenty-four-year-old history teacher, Eve. Now, five years later, Eve is being released from prison, and Josh has mixed emotions. Was he really molested? Or, was it a consenual realtionship? Why did his parents force him to press charges and ruin everyone's life? As he relives those secret moments from his past, Josh shows that when the lines between teacher and student get blurred, bad things happen.
Barry Lyga addresses the taboo subject of teachers being sexual predators. Against the backdrop of a middle school setting, he takes a stark and honest look at how authority figures draw in susceptible students and abuse their power. Although many readers are turned off by the predator being a woman (because it plays into stereotypes), Lyga's goal is to effectively show the devastating effects of sexual abuse, which he does - regardless of gender. As Josh works through his conflicting emotions about Eve being released and takes on the guilt for everything that happened five years prior, Lyga shows that circumstances aren't as cut-and-dry as people like to pretend.
This book will make readers uncomfortable. It should. It doesn't gloss over sexual abuse. (And, teachers who have affairs with students ARE sexual predators.) Instead, Lyga walks the reader through the process that predators use to lure their victims and keep them silent through guilt and shame. This book goes into sexual detail and doesn't glamorize the inapporpriate relationship between Josh and Eve, which adds to its validity and importance. Instead, it faces it head-on, and makes the reader think about how every action has a lesser or greater reaction. Just because we refuse to talk about something, doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.
Johanna only wants one thing - Reeve Hartt. Reeve consumes her thoughts, her dreams, her reason for living. With an intensity that borders obsession, Johanna makes it her mission to make Reeve hers before their senior year is over, which gives her approximately fourteen days. Through a twist of fate, the two girls are thrown together, and they ignite a passionate love affair that turns abusive. Throughout the novel, the reader experiences the emotional roller coaster of their turbulent relationship, and learns that the line between abuser and victim is blurred when everything hinges upon RAGE.
Peters gives an honest view of an abusive relationship, and the manipulation and lies a victim tells herself to keep from facing the truth. Disturbing. flag