So let me see if I understand the Aesop of this book.
1 Kids are obligated to include EVERYBODY in what they do, including kids they don t know very well or don t especially like If they don t if they have a set group of friends that they re attached to and aren t interested in adding anyone else to the dynamic, they are bullies by excluding the extra person 2 It s not enough to be polite to the new kid if you don t invite her to hang out with you, or make a point of trying to befriend her, you re a bully by excluding her.
3 Teachers School Administrators suddenly have the right to cancel school functions because of the private conversations of a small handful of students, on their phones, off school hours, and everyone except for the students will find this acceptable.
4 You can annoy people and force your presence on them and still be expected to be included in their group If they don t, you re being bullied.
Alright, so I m going to go ahead and say a really harsh truth that a lot of people in the anti bullying sectors of society really don t like view spoiler Nobody is obligated to be friends with your kid.
I m sorry, but they re not.
They are obligated to be civil to your kid They are obligated not to deliberately, maliciously exclude your child from certain things like cafeteria tables, bus seats, certain desks in the classroom, basically anything that should be publicly available to anyone You can t sit with us because you re a loser or perhaps setting your bag on an available seat in the cafeteria and then saying No seats, sorry is not the same as I m not including you in a group text with my friends A group text with your friends is a private conversation between a small group of people, and you are not obligated to include anyone else in that That being said, it was rude of the girls to have that side conversation with one another while Victoria was in a chat with them and they should not have done it This book gave the very, very uncomfortable impression that Prianka, Cecily, and Gabby were obligated to include Victoria in their group because she was new, and that by failing to do so, they were being bullies There was the implication that they really should have been making an effort to be friends with Victoria, despite the fact that Victoria effectively latched onto them and began to be pretty annoying and intrusive in an attempt to be included.
And look, I get it Victoria s lonely She wants friends.
But you cannot force, you cannot guilt kids into being friends with someone Again, they are obligated to be polite, and there are only a few instances I can see where the girls were being explicitly rude to Victoria Not acknowledging her at the dance committee which they should have, since she was part of it to, you don t have to be friends for that , and talking in that side conversation which led to Prianka accidentally insulting Victoria directly via text.
But beyond that I didn t see bullies I saw girls who had their own, special group of friends and weren t especially interested in adding Victoria into the mix it didn t come off as personal at all at first, they just weren t interested in her And it turned personal after Victoria continually bugged them to pay attention to her I m not shocked that Prianka thought she was annoying, because she was being annoying That doesn t excuse talking behind her back in the group chat, but I do understand why Prianka feels that way.
Between the general narrative and the letters from Victoria s mother to the other parents, I got the very uncomfortable message from this book that kids should be forced to include kids in their personal groups again, not things like parties or dance committees, but personal friendships or else be labeled exclusionary bullies.
And I m sorry, but that s not how it works.
Kids form special bonds with each other, and they SHOULD have the right to decide who they form those bonds with as long as they do it politely and without being cruel, kids SHOULD have the right to say, I want to hang out with this person, and I DON T want to hang out with this one There s nothing personal about it, necessarily maybe you don t share any common interests Maybe you have very OPPOSING interests The point is that kids should be free to make a choice about who they do and don t call a friend, so long as they re not rude about it.
I mean, what, you want to force them to be friends with someone they don t like What happened to that sentiment of It s better to have a few REAL friends than a bunch of people who aren t really friends at all Or do we throw that out the window and deny a child their right to regulate who is in their personal group and who s not That was the message I got from this book When a new kid comes to you and routinely pesters you to be included in your close group of friends, you should do it, even if you don t actually like her that much because if you say No thanks, I m not interested in hanging out with you , then you re a BULLY and we all have certain associations with the word bully And that s a really screwed up message to me, especially since we live in a day and age when this is a reality The short version is that some schools in the UK in this case are banning best friends , because best friends are, by nature, exclusionary this includes things like don t hand out birthday invitations unless everybody in the class is invited Except that there are experts saying that some degree of social exclusion gives kids a chance to develop their coping skills There sin the article.
Beyond that, the book was just I mean, I m forced to draw the conclusions I just did because the only EVIDENCE I have is from the text conversations I have no evidence that the girls were being mean to Victoria in their day to day lives Victoria only mentions being ignored at the dance committee, the accidental misfire text, and the fact that the girls won t return her texts which, AGAIN, they are not obligated to do There s no evidence that the girls are being rude beyond that, so I m having trouble figuring out why they re so awful and need to be punished for it.
And I mentioned this before, but seriously Since when do school dances get canceled because a few kids were rude to each other over their phones If I recall correctly, the whole reason people complain about schools and bullying via text is because the schools often CAN T do anything about it unless it happens on school property, it falls under the heading of private business and the school can t really punish kids for things that happen off school grounds.
So the fact that the dance was canceled astonishes me and makes me suspicious that the author needed to raise the stakes a bit, because I don t think that s how this thing happens in real life Also and IDK whether this was meant to be viewed as positive or negative I was immensely bothered by Gabby s mother peeking in her diary Phones are one thing the parents are paying the bills for those and even then I was uncomfortable at the implications I mean, the kids just moved off of texting and had the conversations face to face, so congrats, you ve learned nothing But a diary is a thoroughly private thing meant for ONE person, and this mother chose to blatantly invade her child s privacy instead of just trying to talk to her.
Overall, just not a very good book hide spoiler
TBH is a quick read that will definitely resonate with a younger middle school crowd.
This book was a really quick read, but it was still very good I liked how the book was told completely told through text messages and was very relatable to some middle schoolers I would highly recommend it as I really enjoyed it, and I can t wait to read the second book.