A little over a year ago, I read a book by Erin Jade Lange that really spoke to me. That book was Butter. So, when NetGalley gave me the opportunity to read this author’s newest work, I jumped at the chance. Given how I reacted to Butter, I hoped that Rebel, Bully, Geek, Pariah would also elicit an emotional response. It did, but in a different way. (This wasn’t really surprising. I really identified with the main character in Butter. Not as much in this new book. As we move forward with this post, you may see why.)
Rebel, Bully, Geek, Pariah–which comes out on February 16th–is being billed as a modern-day version of The Breakfast Club. I agree with that…to a certain extent. The kids in this book aren’t exactly stuck in detention. No, their situation is more serious than that. They are on the run from both cops and criminals. (It’s hard to tell which is which in their predicament.) How is this book like The Breakfast Club then? Well, each character is very different and brings their own issues to the situation, but their close quarters and shared anxiety over the trouble surrounding them bring them together.
Let’s take a closer look…
Sam’s night is not off to a great start. If only she had controlled her runaway mouth at work, she may have been able to avoid a whole heap of trouble. But she didn’t, and that led to her being fired. After cleaning out her locker, Sam heads to a pawn shop to buy back her mom’s violin (which is a whole other story). That’s where she runs into Andi, former popular girl and current outcast, and her night takes a turn that she never could have predicted.
Sam follows Andi to a party in the woods…a party that Sam never would have been invited to. Here, Sam and Andi encounter two brothers, York and Boston. When the police break up the party, Sam, Andi, York, and Boston make a run for it. Not the best decision.
In running away from the police, this foursome runs right into trouble. Trouble that involves gunfire, stolen cars, a hit-and-run, and millions of dollars in drugs. They don’t know who can be trusted in this situation…especially since it seems like some of the cops involved could be the same ones shooting at them and dealing drugs. They can’t exactly go to the police with everything that’s happened when the police are responsible for at least some of it.
So Sam, Andi, York, and Boston decide to hide out until they can figure out what to do. In the process, they learn more about each other…and themselves. Sam reveals her struggles with her mom, a recovering drug addict. Andi talks about her issues with her dad and how she went from popular girl to total outcast. York admits that he feels guilty about a terrible incident in his past. Boston tells everyone–especially his brother–about the pressure he feels to be smart and successful.
As they reveal more and more about themselves, these four scared kids decide to present a united front…no matter how things turn out. “All of us or none of us” is their motto. But what happens when they learn that one of them is hiding more than just some family secrets? And when the bad guys catch up to them, will that united front stand, or will it all fall apart? Who will ultimately take the blame for everything that’s happened?
Discover the answers to these questions and many more when you read Rebel, Bully, Geek, Pariah by Erin Jade Lange.
In case you’re wondering, I did like this book. Maybe not as much as Butter, but it definitely held my attention. It was full of action, emotion, secrets, and intrigue, and I would recommend it to many teen and adult readers. (It’s probably a little too mature for middle grade readers, in my opinion.)
I think a lot of people will find bits of themselves in at least one of the characters in this book. I know I did. (For me, I guess I probably related most to Boston, the nerdy know-it-all. This is likely not surprising.) For those who eventually decide to use Rebel, Bully, Geek, Pariah as a high school book club choice (something I encourage), an interesting discussion could be which characters readers are most like, why they identified with them, and how they would have handled themselves in a similar predicament.
Be sure to pick up your own copy of Rebel, Bully, Geek, Pariah on February 16th. Happy reading!