The Blurb

Life is hard for Jess. School should be a safe place but at the moment it’s everything Jess dreads, and it’s made even more difficult by the threatening presence of Kez. Kez lives in a nicer part of town but her life isn’t any sweeter. The only place she finds comfort is knowing she is better off than Jess – or so she thinks.

The Review

Ooh I have very mixed feelings about this book.

Ok, so the story of 7 Days is about a girl called Jess, a slightly overweight teenager who is the perpetual victim of the taunts and bullying of Kez – the classic pretty and popular girl. It follows their dysfunctional relationship over the period of seven days. We see the things that Jess has to put up with on a daily basis. All this I have no problem with. However, my issue lies with the trying to humanise Kez. Eve Ainsworth has given her a problematic background to make the audiences see that she has problems too.

I understand why Eve Ainsworth has done this and due to her background working as pastoral staff in a school this makes perfect sense. However, let us pretend that we are the average teenager reading this book who may have experienced being the victim of bullying at some point reading a book like this would anger me. It is like it is justifying the bad person’s actions.

I feel that this is a bit of a cop out. Some people are just mean for the sake of being mean. The victim of bullying isn’t going to care if the other person comes from a broken family; they are just going to care if they are going to make it through the day without being made to feel like crap.

I feel that Ainsworth chose the moral high ground rather than a more realistic ending which made the story feel a little false to me. 7 Days is a good quick read but it didn’t hit the right buttons for me personally.

7 Days by Eve Ainsworth is available now.

The Blurb

Winner of the 2014 Pura Belpré Author Award

In Meg Medina’s compelling new novel, a Latina teen is targeted by a bully at her new school – and must discover resources she never knew she had.

One morning before school, some girl tells Piddy Sanchez that Yaqui Delgado hates her and wants to kick her ass. Piddy doesn’t even know who Yaqui is, never mind what she’s done to piss her off. Word is that Yaqui thinks Piddy is stuck-up, shakes her stuff when she walks, and isn’t Latin enough with her white skin, good grades, and no accent. And Yaqui isn’t kidding around, so Piddy better watch her back. At first Piddy is more concerned with trying to find out more about the father she’s never met and how to balance honors courses with her weekend job at the neighborhoood hair salon. But as the harassment escalates, avoiding Yaqui and her gang starts to take over Piddy’s life. Is there any way for Piddy to survive without closing herself off or running away? In an all-too-realistic novel, Meg Medina portrays a sympathetic heroine who is forced to decide who she really is.

The Review

As someone who works in a high school, the theme of bullying is one that I am all too familiar with. In Meg Medina’s Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass we are presented with the verisimilitude of bullying and the ways in which it is dealt with within the educational system.

Piddy is your average teenager. When her mother decides to move to another area Piddy is forced to move schools due to the catchment area. She knows no one and is unfamiliar with her surroundings but is determined just to get on with things. She slowly makes friends with some of the quieter members of her cohort but one day is told that the school bully is out to get her. Piddy has no idea why and at first doesn’t take the threat seriously. However, as the bully – Yaqui Delgado – ups the level of torment, Piddy has to face the fact that she is on her hit-list.

What is truly brilliant about this story is the way that Meg Medina makes you feel the helpless desperation of Piddy Sanchez. She doesn’t know who to turn to and like most people her age; she feels that telling someone in authority will only make things worse. She silently deals with the torment and becomes more and more affected. It is horrible to read but equally it is damn important.

This is one of the most realistic books based on the theme of bullying that I have ever read and my heart hurt for Piddy on too many pages. Every library in every school should stock this book.

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina is available now.

Follow Meg Medina (@Meg_Medina) on Twitter.

The Blurb

A stunning debut about a young teenager on the brink and a parent desperate to find the truth before it’s too late.

Thirteen year old Callie is accused of bullying at school, but Rebecca knows the gentle girl she’s raised must be innocent. After Callie is exonerated, she begins to receive threatening notes from the girl who accused her, and as these notes become desperate, Rebecca feels compelled to intervene. As she tries to save this unbalanced girl, Rebecca remembers her own intense betrayals and best-friendships as a teenager, when her failure to understand those closest to her led to tragedy. She’ll do anything to make this story end differently. But Rebecca doesn’t understand what’s happening or who is truly a victim, and now Callie is in terrible danger.
This raw and beautiful story about the intensity of adolescent emotions and the complex identity of a teenage girl looks unflinchingly at how cruelty exists in all of us, and how our worst impulses can estrange us from ourselves – or even save us.

The Review

Hyacinth Girls was another book that I chose to read because I found the cover interesting. Fortunately, the content of the book was equally as compelling.

The story centres on Rebecca’s relationship with her godchild Callie. Having raised Callie from a young age due to the death of both of her parents Rebecca finds that as Callie gets older the less that Rebecca knows about parenting.

Things take a turn for the worse when Callie is accused of bullying. Not wanting to believe that Callie could do this Rebecca becomes defensive and protective only to be faced with shocking consequences.

What is really special about Hyacinth Girls is that Lauren Frankel understands of the cruelty of school children. She accurately describes the torment that can take place in the school environment. Frankel brilliantly keeps the reader on their toes throughout the book and constantly pulls the rug from under your feet. With each chapter you develop an opinion only to have it kyboshed in the next.

You see how difficult it can be for both of the protagonists and you empathise greatly with them both. You also see the shocking behaviour people can (and do) display over social media. Dealing with some dark and disturbing issues makes Hyacinth Girls definitely an interesting multilayered read.

Hyacinth Girls by Lauren Frankel is available now.