Wednesday, May 6, 2015

BACKLASH by Sarah Darer Littman

BacklashBACKLASH is the best book involving cyber-bullying I have read.  Author Sarah Darer Littman captures the crazy madness and destructive behavior that results when teens and even adults act without thought to the devastating consequences of those actions.

After living through years of being bullied due to her weight, Lara takes control, loses weight, and has just earned a spot on the varsity cheerleading squad.  Her family was concerned about her depression and fragile emotional state during her middle school years, but hope that her newfound popularity will increase her self-esteem.

Life has improved for Lara, and when she receives a Facebook friend request from a hot looking guy from a nearby school, she is ecstatic.  Their online conversations give her more and more confidence every day.  But, just when Lara is expecting an invitation to Christian's high school dance, he starts posting horrible things about her right on her wall where everyone can see.  His comments are joined by others who threaten and taunt her telling her she should die. 

One evening she makes the decision to lock the bathroom door and swallow any pills she can find.  She wakes up later in the hospital and must deal with the results of her actions. 

In a parallel storyline, Lara's former best friend Bree is dealing with jealousy.  Bree expected to earn a spot on the cheerleading team but didn't.  As she observes Lara's excitement, she decides to take action.  Bree invents Christian, the hot guy who contacts Lara with a friend request.  Bree's mother gets involved in the scam as well, and things spiral out of control.

BACKLASH was excellent for several reasons.  I appreciated Littman's use of the real Facebook social media site rather than making up some generic site as many authors do.  It added a realism and authentic feel lacking in other books.  Another reason I was captivated by the story was the incredibly poor judgment on the part of some of the adults.  One would think that adults would use caution and common sense and not get involved in petty acts, but through experience in dealing with my teenage students and how some of their parents behave, I found the behavior of Lara's mother and Bree's mother all too real.  This is a must read!

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