I really liked this book. No I loved this book. This kind of book makes you feel a range of different emotions from anger to sadness to rage to disbelief. When a book makes you feel all these emotions then you know its good and the author is a fabulous writer. This is the kind of book that stays with you months after you read it and you catch yourself thinking about it in the weeks after you read it.
The book is about the aftermath of the suicide of Leslie Gatlin. Leslie was bullied in school and cyber bullied by girls that were once her friends. This book captures what its like to be bullied and what goes through the bullies head while they are doing these nasty things to someone. For (almost) all the girls in the book we see their motives on why they joined in to torture Leslie. I really truly feel that this book should be read in schools and should be a required text to read. Bullying happens every where. People may assume that it doesn't happen in their school because no one commits suicide because it it but trust me it happens. I teach pre-kindergarten and my four/five year olds bully each other and can be vicious to each other. So I know bullying can start very young.
I hated almost all of the characters in this book save for Jake and Leslie. Macie Merrick was the ringleader of the girls who bullied Leslie and she was the definition of evil. I hated her with a vengeance. Reading the book, I wished she was real so I could beat the crap outta her. And the entire reason for bullying Leslie? Because Macie wanted Jake but he didn't want her, he wanted Leslie. I mean really? Over a guy? It seems crazy but this happens all the time in school. I would describe Macie as a sociopathic ruthless c***. She doesn't care about anyone but herself and she has absolutely no remorse for her actions. She has the nerve to give Leslie's eulogy and has the nerve to stand in front of cameras/reporters and act like she cared so much about Leslie. Then she has the audacity to say that the reason Leslie committed suicide was because of her parents and their instability. I'm telling you, I'm not all for murder but if one of the students in the book went and shot a bullet in her head I would of been happy. Not only was Macie ruthless she was smart too. She never got her hands dirty. She made everyone else do her dirty work and whatever she did do couldn't be proved. Its scary to think that there are real people out there like her in the world.
Jillian was just pathetic, following Macie around, doing what ever Macie told her to do and defending Macie. All I could think was that she needed to grow a backbone. There was a paragraph in the book that showed just how sad and desperate Jillian was for Macie's attention. And here the stupidity goes:
"What it feels like when Macie Merrick sees you, she sees you. It spills out of her eyes and floods you with this feeling that you're the only one who matters, that what happens next is of no consequence, because right now. you've captured her attention and this is the only moment that matters.
The simple truth was that I felt better when I was in Macie Merrick's gaze. In the moment that her eyes locked with mine, the knowledge that I was a prettier, smarter, funnier person was never up fpr debate. If I could see that Macie believed I was good enough, then I swore it must be true.
Somehow knowing that Macie didn't doubt me made me not doubt myself. She gave me the permission to actually believe the things I'd like to think about my self."
I mean, wow. How weak and pathetic do you have to be to feel that way about yourself through another person. I mean I remember I wasn't all that confident in high school but I didn;t need someone singing my praises or needed to feel worth it just because some one else felt that way about me. The worst part is that Jillian was Leslie's friend at some point and she turned on her because of Macie. She did all those things to Leslie and betrayed her twin brother Jake (who loved Leslie) all for a trip to Paris with Macie. Again I say, gimme a fucken break. And to top it all off, Jillian gets the guy she wants at the end of the book while
she was visiting Leslie's grave
. How sick and twisted is that. She so doesn't deserve to get anything she wants. I was happy when Jake told her off and basically disowned her as a sister.
The rest of the characters were stupid as well and went alone with Macie because of what she could give them. Katherine was a pageant girl who joined Macie because she knew someone who knew all the pageant judges in Washington (who happened to be Leslie's mother). Krista is a idiot who seemed to be along for the ride and who didn;t have a filter on her mouth. I swear I felt stupid when I read the things she said. I was happy when Beth almost beat the crap outta her. On to Beth, the little lesbian gymnast who turned on Leslie because Leslie didn't like her in that way.
The only character I liked who had a prominent voice in the book was Jake. He was the good guy. He was in love with Leslie and tried everything to be with her. Leslie wouldn't be with Jake, even though it was clear she liked him, because she was too beaten down by Macie and the bullying. She knew that being with Jake would only intensify the bullying. Jake tried to get through to Leslie many times in the book and on the last night she was alive by talking to her and telling her to trust him. By that time it was too late and Leslie was too broken to be fixed. When I read Jake's reaction to hearing about Leslie's death, it broke my heart. Throughout the book, hes the voice of reason trying to get his sister Jillian to come out of Macie's spell. He knows what the girls did and he knew Macie was the ringleader. He was the character that was affected the most by Leslie's death and every time I read his chapters in the book, I felt what he was feeling- his anger, his hurt, his love and his sadness. It really was heartbreaking.
Leslie's voice is heard only once in the book, in the first chapter. The short chapter shows a girl who has given up and feels like she can't go on. She is in so much pain that the only way she feels she can solve her problems is to take her own life. There is one defining moment in the book in the end that shows what led Leslie to suicide instead of driving to her Aunts house like she first thought she should do, all those months ago. When she loses her last friend its too much for her to take.
I am so glad that Macie wasn't one of the narrators. I don't think I could of stomached what she had to say and I don't know if I could hate her anymore.
In the end almost all the character who bullied Leslie "changed" for the better after her death and were sorry for what they did to her. Here's my take on that- Who the fuck cares? Who cares if they change now. Now is too late- Leslie's dead now and nothing can bring her back. They never even gave a thought to what their actions could lead to because they were all involved in their superficial problems and motives. Their change in to better people doesn't matter. They still drove a person to kill themselves. They get to go to college and get married and have kids and LIVE
while Leslie lies in the cold ground. Those girls should rot in jail for what they did. But that's ok cause karma's a bitch.
This review is also posted on Spantalian's Book Reviews