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StorySnoops Children's Book Reviews | Brutal | Michael Harmon
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by Michael Harmon
LEXILE READING LEVEL: HL620L {what is this?}
PUBLISHER: Knopf Books for Young Readers
NO. PAGES: 240
GENRE{S}: Realistic Fiction
YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
ISBN: 0375840990
READ & REVIEWED BY: Tiffany - StorySnoop

The Story
Brutal—Book Review

When Poe's doctor mother takes off for South America, she is sent to live in a very small town with the father she has never known. Poe is used to fending for herself, as her mom is a workaholic martyr who is never around, and having a parent who wants to interact with her is a strange new thing for her. Poe's new school poses its own challenges, as football players seem to be royalty and rules do not seem to apply to the elite of the school. Instances of bullying don't sit well with Poe and she refuses to sit by and do nothing. Feathers get ruffled, the administration does not know what to do with her, and threats and violence ramp up to a dangerous level.
The Scoop
Brutal—Book Review
{spoiler alert}

Brutal is an excellent anti-bullying book with an incredibly strong and fearless female main character. Poe's self-confidence, defiance, and sassiness all contribute to her questioning of authority and her inability to be a bystander to unacceptable behavior. The clear and resonant message this story conveys is one of standing up against what is wrong and for what is right. Bullying is violent, vicious and cruel. Bloody assaults take place and one character is beaten to the point of hospitalization. Language is graphic and prevalent. Family relationships in this story are strained and challenging at best. Poe does work on her relationship with her father, as they are complete strangers when she goes to live with him, and even her mother comes around in the end. A reference is made to a main character's parents burning to death in their meth lab, and another character's mother is the ultimate "Stepford wife." A character's prescription drug (Oxycontin) abuse is mentioned and underage drinking takes place. Poe and her boyfriend make out and some fondling occurs, though their physical interactions are age appropriate. This story ends on a positive note, with the bullying ringleader getting what he deserves and with a pointed message aimed at adults who let bullying take place.
>View our expanded Super Scoop on Brutal
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