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Breaking Point Paperback – June 3, 2003
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Tripped in class, mooned in the hall, cola poured through the slats in his locker, spitballs stuck in his hair--how much more can Paul Richmond take at his super-snobby private school, expensive Gate-Bicknell Christian? Paul is there free because his mom works in the guidance office, but that fact makes him an instant outcast, his only friend a funny-looking, independent girl named Binky. Even worse off is David Blanco, whose mom is a cafeteria lady and whose father is the janitor. The jocks hound him unmercifully, even killing his dog. When Paul goes to David's house to offer sympathy, David rejects him angrily, saying "You'll be next." Binky, too, tries to explain the cruelty of the rich kids who surround them, but Paul yearns to be accepted anyway. So when cool, elegant, and charismatic Charlie Good asks for his help in computer lab, Paul is eager to comply, and later, when Charlie and his henchmen, Meat and St. John, come for him in the night for a game of mailbox baseball, Paul willingly does the bashing. Gradually he is accepted at school as part of Charlie's group, but for a price: having to hack into the school computers to change Charlie's D in biology. When David Blanco kills himself and the school simply ignores it, Paul is momentarily taken aback, especially when he learns that David had been Charlie's ally last year. But then Charlie reveals his real plan, for which everything else has been preliminary, and Paul has his last chance to say no.
Alex Flinn, whose Breathing Underwater earned high praise, does tribute to the great Robert Cormier in this dark and brilliant novel about the high price of acquiescence to evil. (Ages 14 and older) --Patty Campbell --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Heavy-handed writing undermines Flinn's (Breathing Underwater) stated goal for her second novel, namely, to "stimulate discussion" among teens about why kids commit violent acts. When geeky ex-homeschooler Paul Richmond enrolls as a sophomore at an exclusive Miami private school, he is immediately targeted for harassment. Living in a shabby apartment with his needy, newly divorced mother (her job in the school office lowers Paul's tuition), Paul would feel miserable even if the jocks weren't calling him "faggot" and trashing his locker. Then popular Charlie Good suddenly befriends him outside of school, that is and Paul seems willing to do anything to stay in favor. First Paul vandalizes mailboxes, then he hacks into the school computer system to change Charlie's transcript. Charlie's hold on Paul intensifies until he persuades Paul to plant a bomb in the school. Characterizations are stock, and no one, particularly not the all-powerful Charlie, seems convincing. The boys' reasons for wanting to blow up the school remain murky, and many of Flinn's devices, like the school sermons that parallel the plot, are contrived. For a more developed treatment of similar themes, readers may appreciate Gail Giles's Shattering Glass, reviewed Feb. 11. Ages 13-up.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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However, I wouldn�t necessarily say that I enjoyed the book. I was fascinated by it, couldn�t put it down, and have thought about it a lot since then. But I don�t think I enjoyed it.
There were many reasons I didn�t enjoy it. The first is that many people in this book did truly horrible things that they just got away with. And the few really nice people in the book (Mr. and Mrs. Blanco and Binky come to mind) got nothing but pain and anguish.
The big reason, though, that I didn�t enjoy the book was that I never really liked the main character. I pitied him, and I understood why he made the (truly bad) decisions he made. However, I never liked him. He was too desperate for love, too willing to do whatever it took to be popular. Unlike Nick, in Flinn�s novel Breathing Underwater, who grew stronger with more insight through the story, Paul grew weaker and lost any insight that he had. I suspect this character may have had some good points, but they were never really well-developed.
After Columbine, I had vague hopes that perhaps people would realize the dangers of marginalizing people who were a little different. Instead, it seemed to give people more justification for excluding them, the idea somehow being that it was being a little different and not years of rejection that led to the violence. I fear, that by making Nick pitiable and awkward, but not especially likable, Flinn has further encouraged ostracism of the different.
Paul and his mom just moved to a new city knowing no one. With his mom's new job at Gate High, Paul gets into the school without having money like the other kids. Gate is a rich, private school that happens to have nothing but jerks in it, according to Paul. With his dad out of his life and no friends to count on, Paul is lonely. Everything is going terrible for Paul until the most popular, athletic kid comes and knocks on his window at night. Charlie is the kids name and you can pretty much call him THE PERFECT CHILD. He is the kid that everyone wants to be and it leaves Paul astonished when he thinks he's becoming his friend. Now everything has taken a big U-turn in Paul's, not so great life and everything is going pretty good for him, or so he thinks. Is Charlie really his friend or is he using him, is the question that is popping up in Paul's mind. Paul is thrown for a ride on this crazy roller coaster, that you don't want to miss.
It's through the tragic death of David Blanco a kid that got picked on all the time at Gate, that Paul has to find out who his real friends are. David was pushed to the limit at Gate and committed suicide. Why would David do a think like this? Binky warns Paul about Charlie but of course Paul does not pay any attention to her. A weird mysterious note shows up in Paul's locker that says "Ask Charlie about David's dog." This makes Paul really confused and scared. Who left the note in the locker and why would Charlie kill David's dog, it just don't make since to Paul. Paul has to go through many things that Charlie asks but the last task is a little bit more extreme. Will Paul accept the challenge or go back to his normal lonely life.
Paul's desire to be cool and popular leads him into doing some wrong things. Paul is caught in the middle of a tough decision and doesn't know what to do. Will Paul's dream of being popular lead him to devastation? This decision that he has to make with not only effect him but it could hurt many others. What will happen, is Paul big enough to say "No" or will he give in and say "Yes?"
The lesson to be learned in this book is that no matter how cool you think it is, being popular isn't everything. You really have to find out who your true friends are and stick with them. No matter if you're in a big fight with your friends work it out because they could be the only ones that you have. Work it out and try to be there for each other when in need.
This book is great for everyone, no matter what age. This book is a boy; girl read which they would love. Out of all of the books that I have read I would have to say that this is the best one. If I had to choose to recommend this book to only one group of people I would recommend it to the kids who are just starting high school. It is a big transition and can scare many junior high kids. This is another reason this is such a great book because it has such a varied audience.