Saturday, January 10, 2015

You Can't Sit With Us by Nancy Rue, 2014


Synopsis (from Goodreads):
According to the Ambassadors 4 Kids Club, one out of every four students is bullied-and 85% of these situations never receive intervention. Parents, students, and teachers alike have amped up discussions on how to solve the bullying problem for a networked generation of kids.
Written by bestselling author, Nancy Rue, each book in the Mean Girl Makeover trilogy focuses on a different character's point of view: the bully, the victim, and the bystander. The books, based on Scripture, show solid biblical solutions to the bullying problem set in a story for tween girls.
You Can't Sit With Us tells the story of Ginger Hollingberry, a new sixth grader at Gold Country Middle School. Ginger has been the brunt of teasing and taunting from the queen bee of GCMS. Kylie Steppe, and her so-called Wolf Pack. Kylie and the Pack favor a new and especially hurtful medium of taunting: social networking. What follows is a candid look into the growing world of cruel cyberbullying, showing kids that bullying doesn't always end at school-it can now follow you even into your home and torture 24 hours a day.
(224 pages)

I'm still buzzing from this. I joined the BookLook Bloggers program over the winter holiday, and requested this from the available titles. They sent it in the mail and it came the other day. I can't describe the feelings rushing through my mind as I pulled my new book out of its box. I got a real, actual book (for free!) in real life, just because of my blog. It was like a reward for all the work I've put into this blog, and that was amazing.

Okay, now for the book itself. Apart from being a symbol of my moving up in the blogging world, what did I think of You Can't Sit Here? Well, it was okay. The options were kind of mediocre when I picked it, so I just went with this one on the basis of its pretty cover (blue is my favorite color!) and its message about bullying. I figured that even if it was really bad, at least it was aiming to be good! 

The thing about this book is that it is, above all else, an anti-bullying book. The plot, the characters, the dialogue - everything revolves around bullying. Learning to cope when you're being bullied, self-esteem exercises to do when the bully puts you down, ways to discourage the bully from focusing on you. If I were being bullied at school, I would love this book with all its messages about self-worth and practical tips for coping and turning to adult help. As it is, I'm the biggest bully on the playground - otherwise known as the oldest kid in a homeschool family.

Apart from its important message, the book is pretty mediocre. The characters are practically caricatures (the shy, insecure girl being bullied by the pure evil bully and her personality-less wannabes, the clueless parent, the empathetic anti-bullying counselor, etc.), and the basic plot concepts pretty unrealistic. Ginger is terrified that the rumors about her mother's fatal car accident will reach home, where her father will then curl into a miserable ball at the thought of her mother's death and forget to take care of her, and her grandmother will take custody of Ginger and her brother. There is also a school Code that was established in the first book of the series (It's called So Not Okay, and I haven't read it). The teachers are so incredibly sensitive to bullying that if someone even snaps at a classmate, they have to go to anti-bullying counseling during lunch. I get the idea of this, and it's really nice to see teachers so worried about stopping bullying. But seriously? There's such a thing as too sensitive!

Ginger alternates between being "smarter than people think" and make really stupid assumptions, like her belief that her grandmother will take custody away from her father if he so much as hears the nasty rumors going around about her mother's death. I alternately loved her (especially when she was working on her Lord of the Rings project with her new friend Colin), and hated her (mainly when she was acting so idiotically). She's an okay character for this sort of message-driven book, but if she were in a character-driven novel I'd be pretty unimpressed.

I don't think I'd ever have picked this up unless it was in the BookLook program. I enjoyed reading it, and I definitely enjoyed receiving it, but I don't think it's anything special. If you're hunting for a good, biblically-based book about dealing with bullies, then this should be right up your alley. Otherwise, you're probably fine skipping this one.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

2 comments:

  1. This was a pretty mediocre review for you, and I am glad you were able to enjoy it and let it move you up in the blogging world! Thanks for your honest opinion. Books about bullying are always close to my heart because well, it's a very sensitive subject I feel strongly about.

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    Replies
    1. If you like books about bullying, you might still like this book. It may not have much to offer as a straight entertainment read, but that's mainly because it's so busy providing an example of how to deal with being bullied.

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