Summary (from Goodreads):
“He says: You’re an awful person.
He says: What makes you think I would ever ask you out?
He says: The world would be a better place without you in it.
Lara just got told off on Facebook.
She thought that Christian liked her, that he was finally going to ask her to his school’s homecoming dance. They’ve been talking online for weeks, so what’s with the sudden change? And where does he get off saying horrible things on her wall? Even worse – are they true?
It’s been a long time since Lara’s felt this bad, this depressed, this ugly. She’s worked really hard to become pretty and happy – and make new friends after what happened in middle school.
Bree used to be best friends with overweight, depressed Lara, but constantly listening to Lara’s issues got to be too much. Secretly, Bree’s glad Christian called Lara out. Lara’s not nearly as amazing as people think. But no one realized just how far Christian’s harsh comments would push Lara. Not even Bree.
As online life collides with real life, things spiral out of control, and not just for Lara.
Because when the truth starts to come together, the backlash is even more devastating than anyone could have ever imagined.”
If you read the synopsis for this, you’re probably thinking that it sounds like an After School Special, right? Or like a cheesy Lifetime movie, one that will probably involve suicide, a trial, a ton of uber-preachy lectures about bullying (both online and in real life) and lots of tears? Lots and lots of tears?
Here’s the thing about Sarah Darer Littman’s books: she can take a hot button topic and make you feel sympathy for everyone involved. And she can take what would be a complete train wreck of a topic by anyone else and turn it into something that’s compelling and fresh, and make you absolutely feel every word on the page.
Obviously, you’ll sympathize with Lara. She’s treated absolutely horribly by Christian and, even worse, by people that she thought were her friends.
And you’ll sympathize with Sydney (Lara’s sister), who’s been living in Lara’s shadow forever and whose entire life, it seems, has to revolve around Lara’s attitudes and whims. And with Liam, who’s Bree’s brother. The two of them are also friends, and their relationship is affected by what’s going on between the two families. They’re collateral damage in this whole fight.
But the impressive achievement is that you’ll also feel sorry for Bree. This is the story that’s not told in these cyberbullying cases. While Bree does some horrible things in this book and completely betrays her former best friend (and seemingly takes a complete delight in doing so), she’s also a kid. And she has to deal with so much because of what was just a really, really bad decision.
And that’s the heartbreaking thing about this book: so many horrible things happened because of a few bad decisions and a few misunderstandings.
This is an amazing achievement and I need to read her backlist. (So far, the only other one I’ve read is Want to Go Private?, which is another stunning novel and one you won’t soon forget.)