If her mother wasn’t watching, Kylie Presby would punch Queen Bee, Natalie Silvers, in the face -again. But as Kylie wipes her tears away with the layers of toilet paper encasing her car, she knows she can’t retaliate like she did last time. Her dead mother wouldn’t approve. Kylie no longer cares about popularity. Invisible would work just fine.
Then the new kid, Braydon, mysterious, good looking and too clever for his own good, shows up and sacrifices his social status, becoming Kylie’s shield from the front line assault. After enough chocolate ice cream and movies it’s as if they’re best friends. Crazy, since Kylie knows so little about him.
As Natalie continues her relentless attacks on Kylie another person deals with his own line of bullies. Jack Stine was popular until his deepest secret was revealed and his friends abandoned him. Kylie and Jack bond over their tormentors and form an unbreakable friendship.
Three lost souls each with a story that binds them together, but will it be enough when the bullying goes too far and secrets are revealed?
3.5 stars — I received an ARC of this book!!
This book had me torn in so many different directions. It was so very affecting. I always thought I knew what a poor high school experience was, but I don’t remember anything quite this bad happening at my high school…and I’d like to think I wasn’t just completely blind to everything that was going on. But bullying is such a relevant topic right now, and seeing all that Kylie and Jack went through was quite heartbreaking, regardless of whether I was able to relate or not. And the consequences were so real and left me an absolute snot-nosed wreck (much to my husband’s dismay — he wanted to write Ms. Marie a sternly worded letter for making me cry so much). I really loved Kylie’s developing friendship with Jack and how that all played out.
As for Kylie’s relationships with Sam and Brayden, I found myself frustrated on many occasions…probably b/c the characters were quite realistic and so hopelessly flawed, and I just didn’t want to see them making such obviously horrible decisions…though it’s always easier for us to see that as readers outside the situation, isn’t it? It really wasn’t so hard to guess what happened to Brayden in his previous life, and so occasionally I was frustrated with Kylie for not picking up on the clues…even if she is a high school teenager going through her own problems. But I was equally frustrated with Brayden for not confiding in Kylie while expecting Kylie to come to him with all her problems.
And then there was the whole Drew situation…LENORE MAD. Part of me gets it, but I really wanted to smack Kylie.
At the end, I was disappointed with Sam and Brayden for not owning up to their own bad behaviors. I can’t really go into it more without needing a bunch of spoiler tags around things, but I feel like they were let off the hook too easily without apologizing…it just felt like there should have been some all around apologizing going on. It’s a stupid thing to have bother me, and it probably won’t bother many people, but I’m a sensitive flower that way.
I really loved some of the snarky banter between Brayden and Kylie and their chemistry at the start was adorable! But since we kind of lost that for a good chunk of the book, I was taken out of my love affair for their relationship and couldn’t quite get it back in the end.
I haven’t quite decided whether to round up or down yet, but one thing having me lean towards rounding down is some stylistic writing choices that just pushed on my grammar buttons. Occasionally Ms. Marie would split up sentences with periods, probably for emphasis or something? But they just ended up having me want to fix them…totally a personal issue for me, but it affected my enjoyment a bit.
So in the end I’m still torn. My reviews always feel so negative, and I can’t figure out how to emphasize the good parts to the same degree. So despite my frustrations with some of the characters, I really feel this is a book worth putting on your TBR lists. The social issues tackled in it make it stand out amongst its YA peers. And I’m just going to stop writing now, b/c I’m in a funky mood and overthinking everything I write. *rolls eyes*