So Not Okay tells the story of Tori Taylor, a quiet sixth grader at Gold Country Middle School in Grass Valley, California. Tori knows to stay out of the way of Kylie, the queen bee of GCMS. When an awkward new student named Ginger becomes Kylie’s new target, Tori whispers a prayer of thanks that it’s not her. But as Kylie’s bullying of Ginger continues to build, Tori feels guilty and tries to be kind to Ginger. Pretty soon, the bullying line of fire directed toward Ginger starts deflecting onto Tori, who must decide if she and her friends can befriend Ginger and withstand Kylie’s taunts, or do nothing and resume their status quo. Tori’s decision dramatically changes her trajectory for the rest of the school year.
The first thing that struck me when I opened this book was how wonderful Nancy Rue’s prose was. The writing was really spectacular and drew me right into the story.
The plot was interesting and each character was unique and, I believe, would draw any tween age girl right into the drama. I liked how Rue was able to show through each character that we are all capable of bullying others (even though our bullying may not be chronic). And how bullying can make the bully feel safe and important–protecting them from the world. It made me emphasize with the bully a whole lot more.
I found the main character, Tori Taylor, initially very annoying. So much so that I was tempted to put the book down. But at each page turn I found her growing on me. Perhaps Rue was trying to show how all of us are flawed in some way (she is quite pretentious) but it is a little tiresome at the beginning.
The thing that really sold me on this book was not just that they showed how damaging bullying can be but also an action plan that could easily be implemented in any school. Having worked in a highschool myself I often got frustrated with how systemic, and accepted, bullying was. This book gives actions on how to pull the disease out at the roots instead of just dealing with the symptoms on the surface.
I would recommend this book to teachers, tween girls, and parents of tweens. My only wish would be that there was another story geared towards boys. 🙂 4 stars from me. 🙂
You can pick it up here.
Or here if you are Canadian, eh?
Also, check out Nancy Rue’s website for other great books.
Bullying was definitely a part of my childhood. In the 80’s it was often called “acceptable” and “part of growing up”. Did you, or someone you love, ever encounter bullying? How did you deal with it?