Are You Still There

Are You Still There Book Cover Are You Still There
Sarah Lynn Scheerger
Juvenile Fiction
AW Teen
September 1, 2015
288

Gabriella Mallory, AP student and perfect-daughter-in-training, stands barefoot on a public toilet for three hours while her school is on lockdown. Someone has planted a bomb and she is hiding. The bomb is defused but the would-be-bomber is still at large. And everyone at Central High School is a suspect. The school starts a top-secret crisis help line and Gabi is invited to join. When she does, she is drawn into a suspenseful game of cat and mouse with the bomber, who has unfinished business. He leaves threatening notes on campus. He makes threatening calls to the help line. And then he begins targeting Gabi directly. Is it because her father is the lead police detective on the case? Is the bomber one of her new friends. Could it be her new boyfriend with his complicated past? As the story unfolds, Gabi knows she is somehow connected to the bomber. Even worse she is part of his plan. Can Gabi reach out and stop him? Or will she be too late?

 

Review:

“Are You Still There” is not what I would call enjoyable, but it is definitely important and timely.  It deals with bullying and school violence, so at its core is unsettling, but also a book that should be read.

The story centers are Gabi and her family, all of whom have their strengths and weaknesses.  At first, Gabi borders on the unlikable due to her judgmental nature and somewhat “holier-than-thou” attitude in regard to grades and volunteer work.  It becomes clear rather quickly that she is simply clueless.  She is eventually paired with a diverse group of students who expand each other’s self-awareness.  All of the new friends she makes are interesting, go beyond their stereotypes, and add to the plot.  I really liked the way Gabi grew, and helped others to grow, throughout the story.

As mentioned in the introduction, the story centers around bullying and violence.  It also raises awareness on how we perceive ourselves and others.  The most important message to take away is “If you can do or say something to help, do it.  Don’t ever just sit back and watch.”  Gabi makes some mistakes, and the author does not shy away from pointing out the consequences of those mistakes.  There are also things beyond her control, and those are also presented unflinchingly.  Nothing in “Are You Still There” is sugar-coated, nor should it be.

I highly recommend “Are You Still There” as a book that presents real issues to young adults without patronizing them.  It would be a good book for parents to read and discuss with their child.  Communication is so important, and I believe this book will present many opportunities for it.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

Content Warning:

Minor Sexual Situations, Language, Underage Drinking, Violence

 

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