Author: Patty Blount
Page Count: 304
Published: August 1st, 2012
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
4 Stars ★★★★
Daniel is moving to a new school, hoping that nobody will find out his secret. He wasn't always Daniel....he used to be somebody else, somebody who cyber-bullied another kid into suicide. He has to keep his secret closely guarded...if he isn't careful, Liam's father will come after him and his family.
He gets into a fight on the first day of school, while defending someone from Jeff, a bully. This isn't the way he wanted to start out, immediately brought into the spotlight. He also meets Julie, who seems to have something against him, although they don't even know each other. It's almost like she knows something about him.....
This was an emotional book about the effects of cyber-bullying, on both victims and bullies alike. I really liked that the book started out with Daniel going to a new school, I think that this was a great place to begin as opposed to while he was still a bully, or in juvenile detention. While things like the nature of the bullying and the impact it had on Daniel's mental health weren't completely discussed right away, I think that they were well addressed throughout the book and provided a reason to keep reading even when I got tired. I wanted to know more about the situation, I wanted to understand what had happened, and what was happening to Daniel now. For a book with a slower plot and a contemporary setting, I remained hooked on Daniel's story throughout.
Daniel as a character was so interesting and tragic. I couldn't find it within myself to hate him for his actions. He made a mistake....and many people suffered for it. But that didn't make him a bad person overall. He was complex, dealing with a mental health crisis, suicidal thoughts, and lots of guilt. I found him relatable although I've never been in his situation, and I think this was very impressive! I connected to him through his suffering and attempt to distance himself from the past, despite having drastically different lives. As a character, he had so much depth, he was truly likeable in my opinion. I think he definitely redeemed himself.
Julie, Jeff, and Brandon, the boy Daniel befriends after saving him from Jeff on that first day of school, were interesting secondary characters who played very important parts throughout the novel. Often, their relationships with each other and Daniel were very unstable, which actually gave this sad contemporary novel a feeling of suspense at times. I was always wondering what was going on with poor Brandon. I was worried that Jeff would target Brandon again or even go after Daniel. And Julie, as a supporting character and love interest to Daniel, was both interesting and frustrating. I found her part in this book a bit unbelievable at times. I can't say much more without spoiling the reveal, but I found it made very little sense that she'd go so far as to befriend and even date Daniel. That's why this book lost a star.
I think the ending to the book was well done. It was emotional and unsure, and it made me really wish for a sequel.
Overall, this was an enjoyable, emotional book with interesting characters. It discussed real life issues in a way that considered multiple sides of the story, and I am glad I found this book. I'll be looking for more books by Patty Blount in the future.
I recommend this book to those interested in reading about the effects cyber-bullying could have on the perpetrator. If you like books with complex characters, this novel is for you.