Author: Susane Colasanti
Release date: May 31, 2012
Published by: Viking Juvenile
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Noelle feels like a high school reject. She is bullied at school and has a terrible home life. Noelle is counting down the days until she can escape her life in the suburbs and head to the city where she can live her life without being judged.
She has goals--to make a difference in the world, but she also feels like she isn’t good enough for Julian, the one boy who gives her chills. Until one day when something tragic happens and Noelle decides to live her life, empowered to accept who she is and not accept the bullying anymore.
My Thoughts: This story is an emotional journey. I really appreciated how Susane Colasanti captures the reality of a teenage girl’s life, especially one dealing with the family and school issues that Noelle faces. You can’t help but cheer and fear for her as she travels through the last 53 days of the school year.
The character development allowed me to connect to Noelle very quickly, as well as become friends with Sherae—Noelle’s only close friend. I love Sherae. She is the type of true friend everyone deserves to have in life. Sherae is also facing a difficult experience, and she and Noelle support each other. Sherae is the rich girl who doesn’t judge, and Noelle is trying to hide her poverty by going unnoticed.
The love interest, Julian, is a sweet and persistent boy, and the rest of the supporting cast grows as Noelle realizes she has more people to count on than she thought. The love story element is secondary, which I actually liked, because I was more interested in the evolution of Noelle and her journey of self-discovery, which I think really begins when she joins the school’s literary magazine as a way to escape the lunch room.
The plot deals with many issues without feeling preachy—the issues are just a reality of the life the characters are living. Colasanti addresses poverty, bullying, and rape in 202 pages, and she does it with heart and without over-dramatization.
I highly recommend this beautiful story because it will remind you that all people have room for growth. I will be reading more of Colasanti’s novels!