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{December 29, 2013}   {Review} Girl Over the Edge by Amy Kinzer

12658239From Goodreads: It started with a bad decision and ended with an obsession.

Seventeen-year-old best friends Beckett Smith and Chloe Baker can’t shake their reputations after taking risqué photos at a college party. The pictures are distributed to the North Lake High School student body sending the best friends to the bottom rung of the social ladder right before senior year. When Beckett and Chloe return to school, they find themselves ill prepared for the harassment and bullying that follows.

Beckett has an easier time being reaccepted than Chloe. And she’ll do anything to be part of her old clique and to get a second chance at a relationship with her ex-boyfriend, star running back Kale Fenton. But Beckett’s attempts at a normal senior year are at odds with Chloe’s increasingly anti-social behavior. As Chloe’s life spirals out of control she becomes obsessed with the Aurora Bridge in Seattle, also known as Suicide Bridge, a place known for the jumpers. And after everyone’s abandoned Chloe, Beckett is the only person who can prevent Chloe from making the jump.

Girl Over the Edge is a novel about best friends, damaged relationships, and the help that sometimes comes from unexpected places.

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Cyber bullying has become an extremely fast growing phenomena with the advent of social media, and this is a story that shows just how devastating such a form of bullying can be.  Not only does the bullying in this novel come in viral forms, but also in the interactions and words of the characters within, which just adds fuel to the fire that online bullying stokes.  When I was in high school, bullying was face-to-face and through the rumor mill.  Today, one snap of a camera phone and a moment later, it’s uploaded to all types of social media and can spread so quickly that it’s beyond control.  Where bullies and those being bullied used to personally know one another, the internet has given way for bullies from all walks of life to harass others, especially through social media sites; and it happens a lot more than people let on.

Kinzer’s story is one of intense bullying, both cyber and face-to-face, and it also analyzes the human psyche.  How much bullying and hatred can one endure before it is too much? If given the chance to remove oneself from a bullying situation, who would say no?  This is the story of Chloe and Beckett, best friends whose lives begin to fall apart at the seams after a series of photos go viral during a college party.  And truthfully, those photos probably weren’t even sent with the idea of bullying or harassment in mind, but rather were sent as someone’s stupid idea of showing off to their friends, who then sent them to their friends… and this is how it starts.  Ultimately resulting in the loss of popularity and friends for Beckett, and the complete and utter harassment of Chloe, both young women experience hardship and heartache over the course of their senior year.  Beckett, however, used to have an “in” crowd, and as she was only in one picture, whereas Chloe has always been on the sidelines and was in multiple pictures, the two friends begin to slowly drift apart.  As an adult who works with teens, I want to say that this doesn’t happen, but that would be a lie.  I’ve seen ostracizing over many things that I would consider trivial, a small speck in the timeline that is life, but to a teenager, it is everything.  Think back to when you were a teen—or maybe you’re one now.  At this time of development, when you’re trying to find yourself, all that matters is really the here and now, and perhaps the schools you’ll apply to for college. We don’t tend to think about the future beyond that in any relative or realistic form, and so it’s hard to understand that yes, it does get better.  That there will always be bullies, but that we don’t have to listen to them or allow them to rule our lives, and while I know this, it’s a lot harder for teens in the moment to understand this.  And that’s what Kinzer looks at in her novel.

Beckett is not my favorite, but I get her just the same.  Have your parents ever told you to stay away from so and so because of x, y, and z?  Mine did.  Now just think about a teenager who’s lost all her popular friends, her spot on the cheer team, her boyfriend… but she could get it all back if she just lost that one friend… what side would you choose?  Truthfully, most of us would pick letting go of the one, and that’s what Beckett does, though not consciously.  Yes, she is selfish, and she should have seen the warning signs and been there for Chloe, but at the same time, Beckett can’t be blamed alone for what happens.  Friends do drift apart, and Chloe doesn’t help the situation with her obsessions, closing herself off, and refusing to obtain help when it’s given.  So, while Beckett really isn’t my favorite, I won’t blame her.  Nor will I blame Chloe, because she gets the brunt of it all, and she handles it quite well on the inside, until she can’t anymore.  And this is exactly what Kinzer is trying to show her readers: an amazing look at two young teenage girls on the brink of going over the edge.

Kinzer has written an extremely life-like story full of believable characters, whether we want to admit that or not.  As adults, we sometimes want to say that these things don’t happen because we didn’t experience it in our lives, or because we believe we experienced bullying growing up and so we know what it’s like.  But this cyber bullying is something completely new that is very real, and the responses from the characters in this novel, especially those who feel entitled, are also extremely real, and while this novel deals with a difficult topic, I do think it has some amazing teachable moments and a great theme that all, both young and old, need to hear.  I highly recommend this novel to all, but especially teens.  Five stars.

5 stars

I received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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