Author: Gayle Forman
Published: August 16th 2007
Genre: Young Adult
Buy: Amazon ~*~ Barnes & Noble
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Caution: May contain spoilers
Many readers are probably more familiar with Gayle’s “If I Stay” (especially with the sequel recently released). It was due to knowing of them that I stumbled across this when filling up a cart on Amazon. The premise is about a girl being sent away to a center for rebellious teens by her father.
That girl is Brit Hemphill, 16 years old with magenta and black hair and tattoos. She’s in a band (Clod) with friends Denise, Erik, and Jed, the guy she’s in love with. The book opens with her trip to Red Rock Academy, disguised as a family trip to the Grand Canyon by her dad. In the first few weeks she has an attitude, but Virginia (or V, as she prefers to be called) helps her get started off right. She makes three other friends, Bebe, Martha, and Cassie, and the five of them together keep each other sane.
The rules at Red Rock are very strict. You’re given “levels” numbered 1-6, one being the lowest and six being highest. There’s hardly any contact with people outside, and when you can it’s limited to family only. They will withhold things from you unless you do what you’re told to do. You get level upgrades for telling them what they want to hear. Basically, the place isn’t a legitimate institution, it’s just taking money from overly concerned parents. Of course, the parents don’t realize this, the truth is always hidden when there are visitors, not to mention they’re warned to not listen to the complaints of their child (since they’re child is out of control and not to be trusted).
While it seems to be difficult to abide by the rules, there are ways around them, like to write and receive letters from non-family. There’s also a way to sneak out briefly at night. As the months go by, the girls grow closer. Brit is even able to keep in contact with Jed and her band.
Then somebody gets caught breaking a rule and dynamics change. The girls attempt to stay right but it gets harder. When one of them ends up in the hospital thanks to the negligence of Red Rock, Brit reaches a breaking point. At that moment she makes it her resolve to shut Red Rock down.
I will not say any more as to what happens in the end. You will not be disappointed as you take on Brit’s journey.
Very Good: Stay up late