Before I review it, I have to say this book was sent to me and I do know Sheila rather well. However that doesn't influence my review. This is Sheila's debut novel.
The main character, Roisin, has moved to Massachusetts with her family from Ireland. She is struggling to make friends and having to cope with the school bully, Zara. Zara excels in cyberbullying. Roisin feels so lonely until she starts talking to Haley online. She thinks Haley really understands her because she has confronted her own bully and beaten her. Roisin can't resist telling Haley all her problems. They make lots of jokes together about how they could finish off Zara, but when Zara has a nasty accident, Roisin begins to worry that she may be accused. She tries to meet Haley but she can't find her.
I really wasn't expecting this book to turn out the way it did. The ending completely blew me away. Think Black Mirror meets Mean Girls and you will get a good idea how this book works. The bullying, Roisin suffers is quite brutal and none of her family seem to be there to help her. Mum works way too many hours and Dad is still working in Ireland. Her brother tries to help, but he laughs off most things. Haley seems like the perfect friend from the beginning, but straight away you get this uneasiness about having an unknown friend online. Roisin trusts her completely and as the reader, you do feel uncomfortable by her naivety.
This first half of the book moves at a slower pace than the second half. By the end I was holding my breath. Great characters helping to create a gritty read. This book gives a nerve wracking glimpse of what the future could look like.
An ideal contemporary read for the middle grade audience, dealing with hard and relevant topics such as cyberbullying and the overuse of social media. There is a lesson to be learned from reading this book.
Thanks again to Sheila for sending me this cracking read.