Published by HarperTeen on October 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Source: For Review
I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!
Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”
Emily sees Belinda, a girl from her school who is developmentally disabled, getting attacked under the bleachers and fails to act to help her. But she wasn’t the only one — a football player named Lucas also saw and did nothing to help her. The two are punished by the school when everything comes to light and are required to do community service at a classroom with disabled adults. Meanwhile, Belinda decides to come back to school after staying home for a while after the attack and is confronted by her old classmates and how things have changed in her absence.
Well, that was cute and heartwarming. Also, made me think a lot about the kids who I used to work with when I did Best Buddies in high school (is that still a thing in high school today??) and wonder how they were doing.
I though this was really enjoyable and heartwarming for the most part!
What I liked:
- Belinda: I LOVED the chapters that were Belinda’s. IMO she WAS this book for me. Belinda is developmentally disabled and I was glad to see her actually have POV in this novel rather than her just be a main character seen through Emily. I LOVED getting to know Belinda — she was definitely one of those characters that jumped off the pages for me which was nice because the other two main characters were a bit bland for me. There was so much I loved about Belinda and I enjoyed watching her learn some important lessons just as Emily and Lucas do. My heart broke for Belinda with everything she had been through and her hurt and confusion after what happened. I hated the microaggressions against her (even by adults!!) and the way she was laughed at by classmates or not given a fair chance because she was developmentally disabled. I worked with Best Buddies in high school and got to know a lot of the students in the special education classes and I wanted to rip throats out to anyone who was unkind to them or tried to get these students to things for a laugh or just didn’t treat them like people. I wish all students were required to spend time with these students so they could see them as PEOPLE.
- The romance was cute: It wasn’t anything spectacular but I tend to enjoy romances where people don’t necessarily like each other at first or have misjudged one another and then SEE each other for who they are rather than who they were thought to be. I liked their conversations and their awkwardness.
- “The message” — I hate calling it THE MESSAGE because like it sounds so cheesy. But I really did love how the story helped the characters learn some important lessons: like how wrong your judgements about a person can be, to be kinder to those who you presume are different or whom you don’t understand, to stand up for what is right, how dangerous silence can be and how complicit you still are in that, and how important it is to stand with and up for those whose voices are silenced by society, are marginalized or not taken seriously. While sometimes all this was preachy and like HERE IS A LESSON, I genuinely did feel like Emily and Lucas did learn from Belinda and the classroom they had to volunteer in and it was shown in a thoughtful, realistic manner. It was a good reminder for myself to even think about how I treat people and think of people.