I started this book over the weekend.
Finished it last night. It isn't a long book and I read a lot while at my in-laws on Sunday between doing some historical touring and going out to dinner.
This book was easy in the academic sense....meaning the average 14 year old could read this and understand it very well.
It was difficult in regards to topic/theme. Difficult meaning emotionally heavy. Yet the story moves along and the book is a definite page-turner!
The main theme is school bullying and a young teen girl who begins to cut herself. This problem is very prevalent in our society, among teens. In fact, our church's youth group has discussed this in the past and I know of a teen who was into cutting due to some negative emotional issues. So, this book really opened my eyes more to the whole topic of bullying.
The story takes place in Yorktide, Maine near the coastal city of Portland. Yorktide has beautiful beaches and can be the perfect place to raise a family.
The Patterson family is made up of Mike, Jane (a stay at home mom who has a part time job from home) and their daughter Rosie, age 14, is in her freshman year of high school. Most of the story takes place the summer between her freshman and sophomore year.
The Giroux family lives right next door. Frannie is a working mom who struggles to make ends meet. She is divorced from Peter who is a lazy, sloppy man and who is hardly ever around for his children. Frannie has 2 children she is raising on her own: Petey who is about 6 years old, and Meg who is the same age as Rosie and is Rosie's best friend.
The two families have done just about everything together ever since the girls were little.
Until something happens to sever those bonds of friendship.
Rosie, who is pretty, shy and quiet, becomes the target for the sneers, slights and abuse of some older girls at school. Over the course of the school year, the bullying behavior gets worse. And Rosie tells no one. She begins to cut. Thankfully, her mother finds out and gets her into therapy where Rosie learns to protect herself...............but.....shortly before this, Meg betrays Rosie by telling the clique of bullying girls a secret about Rosie. And Rosie suffers an emotional breakdown.
Jane blames Meg and Frannie.
Jane tries to help her daughter while dealing with her own anger and guilt. How could she have not known that Rosie was suffering at the hands of bullies??
In the summer months that follow, each person struggles with the concepts of compassion, forgiveness, and friendship...what it is, what it isn't. Can the friendships be repaired or are they shattered forever??
Is it ok to repair these broken friendships or should they stay shattered...........
And what about the concept of hope??
Will Rosie and Meg ever be friends again and will Jane and Frannie repair their friendship?
I wanted to go into more detail in the story summary but I don't want to ruin the plot line for you if you decide to read this book.
It is a very well written book and the author has some notes in the back about the topic of bullying.
One thing I learned is that even adults can engage in bullying behavior. I also recognized someone from my past in one of the characters and in the theme of bullying and realized that on a certain level I had been bullied as an adult woman by another adult woman! I'm well past all of that but it really opened my eyes to what bullying actually can entail. It is not just young boys wrestling other young boys to the ground and throwing punches. In fact, with girls/women, it is much more subtle and can be very emotionally damaging.
The book pulls the reader in.......you are reading about Rosie and her family and friends and then in another chapter, you are reading her in the first person as a diary entry from her freshman year. It is fascinating to read her diary and see what her feelings and thoughts were towards her self and the other characters.
This book is brutally honest about family, friendships and love. It touches on the bonds between mothers and daughters and about how resilient true friendships really are.
I highly encourage you to read this if you are a teacher, a parent, a youth group worker or other person who deals with children. I encourage you to read this to learn more about bullying and how you can help spread anti-bullying awareness/programs. I am thankful that our school district has a strong anti-bullying program with some new concepts that we are putting into place.
Bullying is a very serious issue especially among our teenagers.
In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 14 and older.
On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.