Author: Brendan Kiely
Publisher: Margaret K. Mcelderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division
Published Date: May 1, 2018
Format that I read it in: Audiobook + Hardcover
My Star Rating: 4 star
James Baxter, aka Bax, has a haunted past and is trying to start fresh at Fullbrook. In his eyes, he is the scholarship kid that owes the school something for their money. The only thing he’s good at is bringing his A-game to the hockey team, a full-contact sport that doesn’t require him to hold back his brute strength. Surrounded by all-American boys, he’s accepted into the “in crowd” but he’s not so sure he wants to be.
Also at Fullbrook is Jules Devereux. Always one to push the limits of the straight-laced faculty into accepting anything other than their traditional ways, she is glad her senior year is here at last. After the events at a party leaves her life in shambles, Jules is more determined than ever to speak up and let her words be known.
Before reading this, I had assumed that this was going to be a “skeletons-in-the-closet” plot. For example, I imagined an old murder being discovered. Something that the school staff knew about but were trying to keep it a secret. You know, a mystery.
Though I wasn’t what I had expected, this book delivered. Maybe not a skeleton buried in the woods, but the topic that this book touched on was dark. An all-too-real dark. Beyond the plot, the characters were well-rounded individuals, even though I wanted to shake Jules half the time.
And while I thoroughly enjoyed this book, the ending is what kept me from giving it a 5 star rating. After all the suspense and build-up, just as we are seeing the characters grow, it seemed that the ending was wrapped up a little too quickly. I was hoping for more of an epic “stick-it-to-Fullbrook” finale. I was disappointed.
Characters that stood out to me:
Jules: There were times when I wanted to shake her and yell “you are stronger than this!” She was such a strong girl even when the aftermath of that dreaded party nearly broke her. Likeable and sturdy.
Aileen: I didn’t really care for Aileen. I didn’t understand, after hearing what happened to her to make her who she was today, why she hadn’t spoken up. Instead she used the violence against herself to “eat up all those soft boys”. No, girl! Be smarter than that!
Bax: Though he thought he was just a dumb brute, a monster, he seemed to be one of the smartest ones in this whole book. I love that he stood up against the traditions of his friends at Fullbrook and took a stand for the girls. I feel like he was the true hero here.
Would I recommend:
Absolutely! My initial thoughts were that this should only be read on the older scale of YA, especially with some of the topics (one in particular). However, I think the message that this book gives should be heard by all age groups. Use your voice!