So Not Okay

So Not Okay: Mean Girl Makeover Series

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?

Karen deBlieck

Karen deBlieck

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6 thoughts on “So Not Okay

  1. Great post Karen! I don’t think bullying can ever be a overused topic, as everyone at some point experiences it. Very few are immune to its arrows. Most of the time for myself, I just ignored it and went on with my life, but the hurt and the effect was always a factor in how I felt about myself, and even to this day, that effect is there. I am going to pick this book up, you’ve got me interested. I deal with bullying in my own story and I’m always curious as to how others deal with it!
    Thanks Karen!

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    • It’s true…the effect of bullying lingers on forever. Currently I am doing a Bible study with some lady friends (Lazarus Awakening) and it touches upon how past hurts can effect our later reactions and become our habits (or habitual reactions). I thought that was very true. And for those who have been habitually bullied it can be a vicious cycle to get out of. Thanks for leaving a comment Loraine. 🙂

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  2. I was pretty fortunate to escape most bullying while growing up. I know there was a little – I have memories of being made fun of for this & that over the years. But I avoided those people and basically stopped putting myself out there. I didn’t trust anyone besides my sisters and even they weren’t privy to my secret heart. And if I reacted that way to what little bullying I had encountered, I can’t fathom how much more difficult it be a target. It’s something I always have one ear out for with my daughter – teaching her to love and stand up for others and come to us if she encounters such things herself.

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    • It’s true, sparksofember, that the tiniest word can leave the largest mark on our hearts. And it’s good that you are sensitive to that for your daughter. I really liked the book because they address “Is it ever OK to ‘get back’ at the bully?”. It’s hard to explain what students (of all ages) can do to protect themselves and their friends without becoming a bully themselves. The steps Rue outlines does a very good job of addressing that issue.

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  3. I was less bullied and more ignored. I hid the hurt and stayed busy in school and out. One of my sons was bullied in middle school when he switched from a tiny Christian school to a huge public school. Girls tripped him in the hall, guys cussed him out for no other reason than he was new and extremely short. When he shared the hurt with me, we decided to make it a matter of prayer, and that he would depend on Jesus as his best friend until God provided a human being as his second best friend. That really steadied him. He looked “up” instead of “around.” A couple of months later he gained a great friend, and the friendship remained through high school and beyond. They are still in touch and in their thirties!

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  4. Hi, Karen. Was this Christian fiction or just fiction? Just curious.

    I wonder if kids think the whole bullied theme is over done. I know my daughter has had to deal with lots of drama and emotional bullying by a girl in her class this year. More of the “you’re mean because you play with other people” type thing.

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