Monday, June 15, 2015

Sorry I'm Not Sorry by Nancy Rue, 2015

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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 have amped up solving 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 show solid biblical solutions to the bullying problem set in a story for tween girls.
"Sorry I'm Not Sorry" tells the story of Kylie Steppe, former queen bee of Gold Country Middle School. After bullying a fellow GCMS student, Kylie has been expelled--"and "she" "has to attend mandatory counseling. Without her posse to aid her and other peers to torment, Kylie focuses on the person who stole her GVMS popularity crown: Tori Taylor. As Kylie plots revenge on Tori, she attends therapy sessions, where she reveals a few details that might explain why she finds power in preying on her middle school peers. After a rough year with bullying backfire, will Kylie decide to become more empathetic with her peers?
It's hard for tweens to imagine why a bully acts the way she does. "Sorry I'm Not Sorry" shows girls that they hold the power to stop bullying through mutual understanding and acts of love.
(288 pages)

This is the third book in the "Mean Girl Makeover" series. I've never read the first one, but I got a copy of the second book (You Can't Sit With Us - click to check out my review) in January. I didn't particularly love You Can't Sit With Us for its plot or characters, but it still held a special place in my heart because it was the first book I ever got for free as a read-to-review. That's why I still chose to review Sorry I'm Not Sorry, when I probably wouldn't have otherwise. I'm actually glad that I did, because it's much better than its prequel.

It's still got some issues, I'm not going to sugarcoat that. Kylie has such a complete turn-around that it's just a little too good to be true. The anti-bullying Code the "nice" kids go by still is kind of over-the-top touchy-feely. Lydia, the bullying counselor, is a little too perfect. Everyone thinks it's perfectly normal for a public school counselor to talk about faith and the Bible when she's working with students. Kylie's ex-friends go way overboard when they turn on her and give her a chance to understand what it's like to be the one who's bullied.

But somehow all of these things, which bugged me like crazy in YCSWU, aren't nearly as glaring in this book. I think a large part of this is that I actually liked Kylie a lot better than Ginger. Ginger was like this quivering, emotional mess who thought that if her father heard the mean rumors about her mother he would have such a mental collapse she would be taken out of his custody. This when her mother had been dead for several years, and the authorities had never even hinted that her father was a negligent parent. And she was supposed to be smart! Kylie, on the other hand, was much more believable - and, frankly, likeable. Her reasoning for keeping the bullying a secret was "I don't want to deal with this. I'm grounded off of going online anyway, so I'll just not think about it." You can almost understand how Kylie, a kind-hearted girl deep down, could do such horrible things to her classmates: it's obvious that she's emotionally stunted, and that her parents don't know squat about raising children. They always come to her defense, are constantly on her side . . . and consider their duties fulfilled if they give her a credit card and send her off to the mall.

I can almost buy that Kylie was a genuinely nice person who did some terrible things without thinking through the consequences. But, as much as I found myself loving her as a character, how can I accept that she never second-guessed what she'd been doing? How can I believe that she was so steeped in the bullying game, and yet can do a complete one-eighty over the course of a few months? Shouldn't she have had a stronger conscience during her time as a bully? Shouldn't she have had a few relapses into bullying people? Why does she go from being completely horrible, to being so nice? I can understand that being taken away from the social pressures of middle school would play a role in that, and certainly getting a taste of her own medicine in the form of her ex-friends' treatment helps Kylie understand her own shortcomings. But at the same time, it's just a little too rose-tinted to survive any careful scrutiny.

But maybe that's why I enjoyed it.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for an honest review.

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