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 book follows the story of Noelle, who’s had it pretty tough for years now. Her mom neglects her, she doesn’t get enough food to eat, she’s bullied at school, and is generally tired of fending for herself. Luckily, she has her best friend, Sherae, who is a pillar of strength for her, even when Sherae is going through her own problems with her ex-boyfriend. Then seemingly, there is Matt, Noelle’s boyfriend, only he doesn’t want their relationship to be public. Then, of course, there’s Julian, who Noelle is also crushing on and it seems he likes her as well, but according to Noelle, Julian wouldn’t want to date a girl like her.
So… this book. It’s a very short, quick read, yet you can feel Noelle’s emotions throughout the story. I honestly felt so bad for her when she was dealing with her mom and the bullies at school, to the point where I wanted to jump in the book and take care of them myself. Her mom was all about herself and didn’t care that Noelle has had to make mustard and mayonnaise sandwiches or didn’t have clean clothes for school, which both situations have gotten her made fun of by numerous classmates. The only thing I didn’t like about Noelle was that she was sort of only into her own problems and didn’t try to reach out to other outcasts like Ali or Tommy, but she does get a little push near the end that helps her to finally stand up to her mom and her bullies.
The other characters in the story were ones I either loved or hated. Sherae and Simon both took Noelle under their wing and helped her out, but weren’t obvious with their actions. When Noelle realizes this later, she’s in awe of them and knows that she can fully trust them. Julian, I would’ve liked to see more of because he seemed great and like he would’ve done the same thing as Sherae and Simon, but he did have an unseen fight with one of Noelle’s tormentors after an incident in the cafeteria.
Overall, I did like this book and the easiness of reading it despite a few heavy topics. The only thing I have a problem with is the fact that it’s so short. I think this book needed to be longer to go into more depth about the other topics mentioned, like the rape and suicide of other characters – that was where there could’ve been more depth on Noelle’s feelings toward those situations and how it affected her since she knew those characters.
Still, it’s a good read and I would recommend it because it does relay a good message of standing up to your bullies/demons and to not give up when it seems like there’s no end to what you’re going through.
Rating: 3.75 stars