It was marked $2.50 (and well within my budget) and the back cover said that it was about teens who decide to tell the truth about life in middle school, not the expurgated lies adults revel in. Some really good discussions could come out of this book and I would highly recommend it to parent-child book clubs. I also recommend that any parent of a middle school student read this.
Dori Hillestad Butler never offers any contradiction to the students' terrible homophobic behavior; she allows the insults to linger and fester, masquerading as mere bully-fodder.
The goal is to create a place where all the students of the school can participate by posting the real truth about the school. Zebby and Amr generally stick to the goals of the site as they write articles about some of the bizarre rules required of students at the school and even an expose about the school lunch program, but the real popularity of the site kicks off after someone going by the toggle "milkandhoney" posts a picture of one of the popular girls from a few years earlier when she was fairly chunky. At first it is a bit of a mystery as to who the picture is of because Lilly has changed to much, but it is just the start of things as milkandhoney has set out with the goal of really punishing Lilly for a past wrong. The students at Truman Middle School have to write a report for the language arts classes about what happened and their perspective on it, but Zebby and Amr have decided to use the site that caused so much trouble to let the kids really tell the story of what happened. Each of the characters gets a chance to have their voice heard including: *Popular girls Hayley and Brianna, *Lilly herself *Amr and Zebby *Lilly's boyfriend and football star Reece *Trevor and Sara, two kids on the outskirts of the accepted student body *and even milkandhoney gets represented through some anonymous posts after saying that s/he is one of the students, but doesn't want to state who.
The An anonymous person named milkandhoney starts step by step trying to take down one of the popular girls named Lilly Clarke, who dumped Zebby Bower and Amr Nasir, creators of the Truth about Truman website. We started reading this book in September and I got to finish it this month. I couldn't put this book down when I was reading it.
Cyberbullying is an issue and this book shows how all hell can break loose once kids are given free license to use the cloak of anonymity to hide their viciousness and highlight their cowardice.
A committee of teachers and well-intent select a book for everyone to engage with and discuss, usually with a typical middle school theme. And while the cyberbullying theme is certainly relevant with teens these days, I found it to be a written version of the ridiculous and unnecessary drama that invariably surrounds and consumes middle school students.
Not a bad lesson for our time at all, considering it addresses questions of censoring trolls and harassment versus that notion of preserving free speech.
My only criticism of the book is that I would have like the voices of Amr and Zebby, the two main characters, to have been a bit more distinct - I sometimes got confused about whose email/essay I was reading.
READ #2 It's so weird to think that I was also, like these characters, an eighth grader the last time I read this. This is completely a story that could actually happen in middle school, and there have been things like it that I've seen.
Dori Hillestad Butler grew up writing, for she had no brothers or sisters to play with until she was eight years old.