Noelle's life is all about survival. Even her best friend doesn't know how much she gets bullied, or the ways her mom neglects her. Noelle's kept so much about her life a secret for so long that when her longtime crush Julian Porter starts paying attention to her, she's terrified. Surely it's safer to stay hidden than to risk the pain of a broken heart. But when the antagonism of her classmates takes a dramatic turn, Noelle realizes it's time to stand up for herself--and for the love that keeps her holding on.
This is a story about an average teenager by the name of Noelle. Living with a single mother who is not really an ideal mother-figure and within an income that puts them very close to the poverty line, Noelle is not leading a very comfortable life. At home she has to deal with her not so considerate and nagging mother and at school she has to deal with bullies. All the while she also has to deal with empty refrigerators, lack of essentials at home and the social pressure at school. Needless to say her secret crush on Julian Porter is just that – a secret. But things change when Julian starts paying attention to Noelle.
I have mixed feeling about this book. But the things I liked trumps over things I didn’t like. So here goes…
First and foremost thing is the subject – bullying. I have only ever heard people say that they do not condone bullying. But the fact is that there are bullies in every aspect of our lives – from school to work – there’s always one. Needless to say that it is an excellent premise and the author has played out the scenes and the situations very well. I absolutely loved Noelle’s friend Sherae. She is a gem of a person and a strong one at that. She keeps helping out Noelle without making it too apparent. She doesn’t let her own experiences influence her relationship with Noelle. The other person I liked is Simon. He is so my kind of guy. He is a nerd yet a fun-loving guy who doesn’t give a second thought about what people have to say. He lives his life on his own terms and he genuinely cares about his friends. Julian Porter came across a sweet and decent guy. His image in my mind is that of the-boy-next-door. No not the jaw dropping handsome/sexy guy but the regular guy next door. He probably wouldn’t stand out in a crowd. Good looking, a good student and a decent enough guy.
Now let’s come to the part I didn’t like. I don’t know if you have noticed it, but I haven’t said a thing about Noelle so far. That’s because – she is the part I do not like in the book. She came across as a ever-complaining hypocrite to me. Ever complaining because she just keeps on complaining about everything – from how her mother is so irresponsible to how they have to live on food stamps and there’s never any food at home to how she doesn’t have any good clothes to how ordinary looking he to how everyone bullies her. I am sorry, but if you cannot find a single good thing in your life then there’s something wrong with you and not your life. For instance, she qualifies for free food at school but she doesn’t avail that opportunity because that would give the bullies another thing to bully her about. I am like – ‘another thing’? They already make fun of you because of your lunch – get the free food and at least stop bitching about not having enough food! Again, for a girl who cannot afford the basic necessities, she borrows money from her friend for a designer haircut so that she can impress a boy! Also, she keeps complaining about being bullied all the time and no one taking any action against it. But there when she witnesses another girl being bullied guess what she does? Nothing! Such a hypocrite!
I so wish the story was about Sharae and not Noelle. I would have ‘felt’ for the protagonist then. The 2 stars I am deducting is totally for Noelle’s character. Otherwise this is a good storyline with some very good characters and some important messages for the youth.