Friday, October 8, 2010

The Julian Game

The Julian Game
by Adele Griffin

Raye is an outsider in a world of insiders and cliques.  A scholarship student at a well-respected, very expensive, all-girls school, Raye is a late enrollee and completely out of the loop.  Her one friend, Natalya, is an outsider by choice, and the only person Raye trusts.

One evening, the two of them create Elizabeth Lavenzck, a profile on a social networking site like Facebook or MySpace.  Their creation is an exchange student from Poland who is exotic, says all the right things, and goes to all the right places.  She's instantly popular and makes "friends" with whomever she invites.

It was just a bit of fun.  Neither girl meant any harm.

However, when Raye tries to get on the good side (as opposed to the ignored site) of popular girl Ella Parker, Elizabeth become something dangerous.

Ella gets Raye to set up a boy who did Ella wrong at a party.  She wants revenge against Julian and Elizabeth can get it for her.  But Raye feels guilty and lets Julian in on the scheme.  

Unfortunately, she also falls for Julian, so she becomes the bullseye on Ella's target.  And now that Ella has seen what damage the Internet can do, she's become an expert at using it against Raye.

What can Raye do when every attack is virtual and there's no way to take it down?

Final thoughts:  I got my Master's researching Cyberbullying, and it's also the hot topic of the hour, but reading this was hard.  It's so very well written that it gives me chills.  Luckily, Raye has people around her who love her and a good head on her shoulders, but this book could definitely have gone down a different path.  Having a young son, watching him already master getting around online, I know that his future academic career is going to be vastly different than mine.  I never had to fear a bad picture getting online or forums dedicated to tearing me down.  What kids have to face today is beyond scary.
This is the perfect book to show to those who think that cyberbullying is just a fact of life and it's just kids being kids.  It's kids being cruel in a way never done before.  This isn't a 2-second insult in front of a crowd that shames and embarrasses.  This is an online post that can NEVER be fully destroyed and will always be there to haunt the victim.  Griffin nails these fears, and it's all the scarier for it.

Rating: 5/5

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