Friday, December 19, 2008
BURN by Suzanne Phillips
Cameron Grady never imagined high school would be such torture. Other than a personal interest in running, he's never been much of an athlete. He's smaller than the average freshman, and that along with his long hair and keep-to-himself attitude have made him the target of abuse. Rich Patterson and his jock buddies are making it their daily job to ridicule Cameron with verbal abuse and physical assaults.
Cameron knows the horrors of domestic violence thanks to an abusive father. He and his younger brother Robbie are thankful that their mother finally packed them up and left her cruel husband. Talking to her about his school situation though is difficult. She's busy with work and trying to make her relationship with Randy a local cop work out. He knows she loves him and his brother, but telling her what he suffers daily at the hands of bullies is not something he is able to do.
The constant torture reaches a peak the day Patterson and his buddies corner Cameron in the locker room. Naked and defenseless, he is savagely beaten, and the insult continues when he is able to drag himself to his next class in the computer lab, only to discover pornographic pictures featuring his humiliation are being broadcast throughout the school. It is more than Cameron is willing to take.
Running releases some of the built up pressure, but he only finds true relief in the presence of fire. First it's lighting matches and letting them burn to his fingertips, but after a while the feeling of relief only comes with more dangerous stunts. After the locker room incident Cameron finds his inner "firebug" is almost out of control. Unfortunately the thrill he gets from his brush with danger inspires him to plan revenge against his tormentors.
BURN gives readers an inside look into the horrors of bullying. Author Suzanne Phillips portrays not only the victim, but also the sad reality that many victims suffer while observers of the violence remain mute or simply choose not to notice or admit that bullying exists. BURN is a powerful story that will hopefully speak to a growing problem in today's classrooms and school yards.