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Brutal [Kindle Edition]

Michael Harmon
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $8.99
Kindle Price: $5.99
You Save: $3.00 (33%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

With her martyr-doctor mother gone to save lives in some South American country, Poe Holly suddenly finds herself on the suburban doorstep of the father she never knew, who also happens to be a counselor at her new high school. She misses Los Angeles. She misses the guys in her punk band. Weirdly, she even misses the shouting matches she used to have with her mom.

But Poe manages to find a few friends: Theo, the cute guy in the anarchy Tshirt, and Velveeta, her oddly likeable neighbor—and a born victim who’s the butt of every prank at Benders High. But when the pranks turn deadly at the hands of invincible football star Colby Morris, Poe knows she’s got to fix the system and take down the hero.

With insightfulness, spot-on dialogue, and a swiftly paced plot, Michael Harmon tells the story of a displaced girl grappling with a truly dangerous bully.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Sixteen-year-old Poe Holly is “the outcome of a sperm donor program called Poor Choices and Bad Mistakes.” Her workaholic mother has taken a year off to practice medicine in South America, unloading Poe into the custody of a father she’s never met, a straitlaced counselor at Poe’s new school. The pierced and mohawked Poe mostly abhors the homogeneity and elitism of her suburban classmates, though she finds two exceptions: the whip-smart punk-rocker son of the town mayor, and Velveeta, the troubled pariah on the hit list of Colby, the school’s untouchable bully. There is little earth-shattering here, but that’s part of the book’s low-key charm; Harmon’s dialogue is crystal clear and authentic, his youth characters intelligent, and his adult characters finely drawn. The central conflict—the growing hostility between Colby and Velveeta—leads to an ending of contrivance, but that should not take away from an admirably realistic portrayal of a rebel coming to realize that rebellion can be elitist, too. Grades 9-12. --Daniel Kraus

About the Author

Michael Harmon is the author of Skate (“A remarkable first novel” according to Kirkus Reviews) and The Last Exit to Normal (“An excellent read” according to a starred School Library Journal review). He lives in Washington state.

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 341 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (March 10, 2009)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #765,597 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars By-standers to bullies October 18, 2010
Brutal's main character Poe Holly is a girl too tough to be bullied. Sassy, savvy and street smart, she is forced to live with her father in a perfect little house in a perfect little suburb giving up singing in her punk band so her doctor mother can go to South America to help "world citizens." Writer, Michael Harmon, puts Poe in the impeccable Benders High School where Poe finds out their dirty little secret; the adults don't look the other way during bullying incidents- they perpetuate it.

It's subtle and important distinction that Harmon explores in Brutal. If the teachers are supporting the intimidation of some students by the popular and athletic ones, what hope is there of eliminating the problem. Certain students are given privileges and it's those students who are the bullies. Colby Morris is Brutal's untouchable football hero who has singled out Velveeta, a misfit of a boy who lives near Poe, for his put downs and degradations. Poe won't allow it, and the tenacity she used to get herself kicked out of three elite Los Angeles private schools will be needed if she is going to take on the system starting with her father who is Benders High's guidance counselor.

Readers will root for Poe, because of her for her inability to let go of what she knows is right.
-- Reviewed by Cathy Castelli
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars cute quick read June 10, 2009
a cute story about Poe, who is sent to live with her absentee father after her mother deserts her to provide aid in South America. The story follows Poe as she tries to get to know her dad and figure out why he left their family in the first place. Also, at her new school, Poe tries to stir things up by pointing out all the unfairness to school administrators. This causes some trouble as her dad is the school counselor. The main story revolves around Poe trying to protect her sort of friend Velveeta after he becomes the target of some vicious bullies.
The story was interesting, but I would have liked a little more character development with Velveeta and Theo. It was a fast read and will appeal to boys and girls age 13+
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too March 29, 2009
Gold Star Award Winner!

When sixteen-year-old Poe Holly's doctor mother decides to take her practice to the jungles of South America for a year, Poe finds herself living with the father she has never really known. She was a baby the last time her parents were in the same room together, and now she's moving into his house.

Since her mother is usually busy 24/7, Poe is used to living on her own. It's a welcome relief to find out her father is willing to allow her a fair amount of freedom, but his neat and tidy house soon becomes her home, and she is surprised how much she enjoys it. The shared meals and conversation aren't nearly as dreadful as she anticipated. The major weird thing about the arrangement is that when Poe starts school at the local high school, she's not sure how to handle the fact that David Holly, her newly inherited dad, is the school counselor.

Life in Benders Hollow is way different than the punk rocker life Poe is used to. Music is her life, and leaving her band was one of the hardest things she had to do. When her father suggests she could join the school choir and maybe even be one of their soloists, she rejects the idea as too lame to even consider. But after some contemplation, Poe stops in to visit the music teacher.

After hearing Poe's incredible voice, Mrs. Baird promises her a spot as the principal soloist. The result of that offer is one of Poe's first experiences with just exactly how the town of Benders Hollow works.

Poe soon learns that at Benders Hollow High School a select few have all the power.
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It was a good read.... December 4, 2010
I started this book and loved Poe's voice but then things got long winded.

The characters are general cut outs with Poe Holly (a rebellious Gothic teen with a parent complex), he mother (a neglectful work obsessive socialite doctor who left her to go work on a charity project), Her father (the quiet school counselor/writer who left when she was born but is really cool), Velveeta "Andrew" (her weird friend who is picked on), and Theo (her very intelligent best friend/boyfriend who is a rebel and mayor's son). The cast is entertaining enough (I loved Theo even though he was unrealistic), but Poe's attitude becomes really annoying. She is so angry at the world when she has a lot more than other kids have, like Velveeta. Her family is very dysfunctional but at least she has the support. Her rebellious act gets old after awhile. Also, all her speeches and arguments were so well planned she becomes a megaphone for the author.

The heart of the story is Poe finding out who her father is and fighting the system. Poe fights against bullying and how high school forces students to form cliques. The school has a policy that everyone is in one giant school clique but that is broken down.

The book was okay. The characters are a little too perfect and sound a little too "adult" for teenagers. Their fight against bullying and cliques felt tired and unresolved. It is written in a very down to earth style and Poe's narration was always fun to read but you just get tired of it.

It is okay if you like spunky girls with all the answers but it would be better from a library than purchasing it.
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