Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bad Apple by Laura Ruby

Bad Apple is one of those books that leaves me unimpressed, but I can't pinpoint why I feel this way. All I know is it was forgettable.

Tola is considered weird because she has green hair and is obsessed with Grimm's fairy tales. Now the vast majority of her school is against her because of a supposed affair with the art teacher. She denies any affair ever happened, but no one seems to care what she has to say. Just the same, a witch hunt ensues to destroy her and the teacher, lead by a fellow student who delights in messing with people's reputations. In the meantime, Tola has to deal with a mother who wants to see the end of the teacher's career and a sister suffering from depression. Feeling she has nothing to lose, Tola starts to act out, but then her grandfather gets sick and the truth about what happened between the teacher and Tola is revealed.

I think this story had a lot of potential, but it just fell flat. The witch hunt has already begun by the time the story starts and to be thrown into the middle, you don't really have a chance to pick sides. Maybe if I saw more of Tola before hand, I'd be more sympathetic to her, but I didn't particularly care about her as a character. Even now, having just finished the book ten minutes ago, I can't tell you what honestly made her stand out compared to the other narrators I've read about. I'd be more outraged over the attacks on her and the teacher if I could have seen before it all happened, rather than be told about how nice he was. At the same time, she has a fascination with the Grimm fairy tales, and while that was obvious, I think it could have been played up more to accentuate the "weirdness" of the character.

If this novel is supposed to be about the persecution of people who are different, it failed to move me. If it's supposed to be about a wrongly accused teacher - who was barely even in the novel - I didn't care enough about the character. Yes we see her struggles with the high school villain and she has a snarky personality, but in the big picture, it didn't go anywhere. I'm probably too critical, but I just walked away from this book feeling blah and unable to really say why.

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