CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 16. . . . April 11, 2003
"I know who you are." She's not smiling. Her voice has that same flat menace. "I heard what you did to Fiona."
"Yeah, Fiona Birk, you know." She holds out her nails and flashes them, mimicking the principal. "She had to go home and change."
"Oh, no." I close my locker and lean my head against it.
"Yeah, I was in there right after you and it still stunk."
I don't know why she's telling me this. "I'm going to be late."
"Don't feel bad. You're like a hero." Ravin is leaning against the lockers, chewing a thumbnail, studying me with black-rimmed eyes. I could put my hand around her bone-white biceps and my thumb and forefinger would meet.
"Yeah, well, it's not like I meant to-"
Ravin cuts me off. "You," she pokes me in the arm with a stubby nail, "you don't give yourself enough credit." Then she leaves. A notebook is folded into the back pocket of her jeans. She walks like there's no one else around her. Just before the stairs, she stops and turns. The silver rings in her eyebrow glint. She doesn't smile but she nods her head.
Fourteen-years-old, Marlena Peters has enough to deal with in her life entering a high school where no one acknowledges her existence. Then things get even tougher when her father goes to her brother's elementary school and takes him. This time, Marlie is left behind to worry with her mother about where Elliot might be. She knows her father won't hurt him, not intentionally anyway; it's just that he is forgetful. Ever since Marlie's parents' divorce, Chuck, who used to be her dad's best friend, has been more like a father to her, and Marlie confides in Chuck as much as she can, but there are some things she cannot tell him about. Like the new friends she has found who are a band of picked-on misfits planning to extract their own revenge.
When Ravin, Mike, and the others include Marlie in their world, she is both pleased and afraid. The practical jokes are one thing, but under it all, Marlie believes something more dangerous is coming, and she is not sure what side she will be standing on when it happens.
Tullson has captured the voice of a 14-year-old girl in a striking and authentic manner within a fast-paced novel dealing with the issues of divorce and bullying. The dialogue between the young adults is insightful and creates a very real image for the reader. The clashing between different groups of teens and moments of sensitive one-on-one conversations keep the reader connected to Marlie's world where adults and teens often know very little about each other's lives. There is no preaching here as Tullson lets the characters sort through their relationships on very diverse levels, inviting the reader to consider the many possibilities in their own life experience.
Jocelyn A. Dimm is a sessional instructor and doctoral student at the University of Victoria where she teaches drama education and young adult literature in the Faculty of Education.
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