One October morning, high school junior Bryan Dennison wakes up a different person—helpful, generous, and chivalrous—a person whose new admirable qualities he doesn’t recognize. Stranger still is the urge to tie a red sheet around his neck like a cape. Bryan soon realizes this compulsion to wear a red cape is accompanied by more unusual behavior. He can’t hold back from retrieving kittens from tall trees, helping little old ladies cross busy streets, and defending innocence anywhere he finds it. Shockingly, at school, he realizes he used to be a bully. He’s attracted to the former victim of his bullying, Scott Beckett, though he has no memory of Scott from before “the change.” Where he’d been lazy in academics, overly aggressive in sports, and socially insecure, he’s a new person. And although he can recall behaving egotistically, he cannot remember his motivations. Everyone, from his mother to his teachers to his “superjock” former pals, is shocked by his dramatic transformation. However, Scott Beckett is not impressed by Bryan’s newfound virtue. And convincing Scott he’s genuinely changed and improved, hopefully gaining Scott’s trust and maybe even his love, becomes Bryan’s obsession. With a foreword by C. Kennedy.
This story has both heart and soul.
It tells of woeful wrong-doings.
It tells of sinister happenings in young peoples’ lives. Of how it is those very young people who are the sinister shadows that might follow you all the way up into adulthood.
But it also tells of how one person can instigate the change in the many. It tells of how being the person you should be is not only possible, but almost mandatory.
It tells of how important it is to find one’s own voice, to stand up for your friends, and not ditch them when the going gets tough.
And it tells of how a group can come together thanks to one, single person standing up and saying, “No, I’m not going to do that anymore.”
I enjoyed Bryan’s voice, it rang true, in all its teenage-silly confusion, and it was quite a lot of fun to be inside his head as he discovered both himself and the world around him. This marks a good book to me, when a serious subject matter can be intertwined with both humor and fun things happening. The flash mob dance comes to mind.
For sure, this could have gone one more time through the editing wringer, as there were a lot of small errors strewn all over the text—but the overall execution of the story itself is, I feel, so important, that I am ready to overlook them. (Yes, all those who follow my reviews realize that this is a first).
The message in this book is crystal clear. Bullying is not okay. But that’s not all. This book goes on showing us what can be done to stop it. Because that is what Bryan shows us: it takes but one person standing up saying “No.”
This is a book that I think people will interpret in different ways, depending on how their own life is, or has been. If you have even been bullied, or ignored, or bashed for looking/seeming different, or for acting differently from everyone else, or for speaking with an accent, you will get it. If you were the eternal new kid in school you will get it. If you were the one that always got chosen last for teams, you will get it. If you were always pushed around, just for being there, you will get it. And if you were persecuted and physically bullied, you might even get a huge feeling of transferred satisfaction as you read this story.
If, on the other hand, your high-school experience was from the other side, the jock/bully side, you might just miss the seriousness of this story, and shrug your shoulders and walk away. (We really weren’t expecting you to do anything else, but it still saddens us).
Fear is a lonely, lonely place, and the sad thing is that it takes a massive amount of courage to overcome it on your own, while it is so easy if there is only somebody there with you, just one person standing there on your side, telling the bullies, “No, I won’t let you do that anymore.”
To get help in leaving that fearsome and lonely place behind us, so even the sweet David, shy and stuttering, finds courage to step up and ask if Bryan needs a hand, and Bryan answers, “…thanks for having my back,” it simply is just beautiful.
Thank you for writing this book, Ms Kerick. It makes a lot of stuff a little better.
Favorite sentence? Here:
“My entry is about how much I detest broccoli.”
Because you all know by now that I don’t ever give away plot points.
Extra bonus points must also be awarded to this book for the both sweet and very serious foreword, written by YA-author Cody Kennedy. Top marks for his bull’s-eye-call-it-as-you-see-it words on what bullying is and what can be done to stop it. Because, from the foreword:
“… bullying leaves everlasting, invisible scars. To say that you will recover from bullying is a myth. You can only survive and compensate for it when and if you are able.” C Kennedy
I was given a free copy of this book by the publisher, Harmony Ink Press, and a positive review wasn’t promised in return.
Thank you for reading, hope you liked this review.
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