by Amanda Maciel
Publised: 1st May 2014
Everything about what happened to Emma – it wasn’t me. I mean, actually, it wasn’t any of us. It was Emma. No one hung the rope of her. And even before that, it’s not like Emma was innocent. At all.
Emma Putnam is dead, and it’s all Sara Wharton’s fault.
At least, that’s what everyone thinks when Sara is criminally charged for the bullying and harassment that led to Emma’s suicide. Now Sara is the one who’s ostracized. Guilty before proven innocent according to her peers, according to the community, according to the media.
But as Sara reflects on everything that brought her to this moment – can she find a way to move forward, even when it feels like her own life is over?
I received this book as a birthday gift back in November, and it was one that had been on my wish list for a while. Off the top of my head, I remember hearing about this book initially in a Booktuber’s book haul, and they’d spoken about the book very briefly. I made a note of it, and then I added it to my wishlist.
This book grabbed my interest purely for the subject matter. This novel deals with the really controversial topic of the nature of bullying. This book is actually based off a true story, which makes it even more powerful and hard hitting.
As you can see from the blurb, you go into this novel understanding two things. One, the novel is from the perspective of the bully, and two, the young girl that was being bullied has committed suicide.
I will begin by saying I did find this novel to be at times difficult to read, not in the sense that I didn’t enjoy it, more that the images and dialogue sparked a strong reaction in me that at times made me furious. Bravo to the author for this, because it really is an emotional read, and also fair warning to those that might find it too uncomfortable.
What I was immediately intrigued by was that the author chose to write this novel from the bully’s perspective. I have never read anything that tackles this topic from that point of view, so I liked that originality and the challenges that it creates for the reader. As you’re reading from the perspective of the person doing the bullying, you are forced to identify and relate with someone that you probably would rather avoid.
The novel is set from two different places in time, before and after the death of Emma. The novel weaves back and forth between past and present, and I liked how the plot was paced. The author doesn’t rush through all of the key moments that led the protagonist to where she was in the present.
In terms of characters, I found them to be very believable. I wonder if this is because it’s based on a true story? I wasn’t aware that it was when I was reading it so it comes across very realistic in the novel. The dialogue in particular stood out to me. I felt like I was stood in the corridors of my high school, surrounded by the students. Also, I thought it was clever how the author describes locations and the characters through the eyes of the protagonist, in doing so creating a strong sense of the character’s personality.
Back to the subject matter, this book really highlights the effects of bullying. It’s a topic that’s constantly covered in the news, and the tragic thing is the character’s suicide in this novel is a consequence from bullying that is happening all over the world. This novel makes a powerful comment on the many ways people are being bullied, particularly these days on social media accounts that really can be avoided. I think this novel will really help the younger generation that are surrounded by this sort of behaviour everyday and have the means the step up and put a stop to it.
Fantastic debut novel with a message that will haunt me. Recommended!