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Brutal Hardcover – Bargain Price, March 10, 2009
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Poe Holly is the product of some bad decisions. Her mom is an amazing doctor who selflessly goes to South America for a year to help people, but she isn't so great at being a mother. Instead she leaves Poe with her father, the same father Poe has never met and has only spoken to a handful of times in her entire life. When she arrives at her father's house, she realizes not everything is the way it seemed. Her father is the school counselor and he is actually a very kind and understanding man. Despite her previous feelings of abandonment, she can't help but start to care about him.
The same thing happens when Poe meets the students of her new school. Her next-door neighbor is a boy named Velveeta (really Andrew, but he really likes cheese) who seems to be the target of the worst kind bullying. She also meets a cantankerous young man named Theo who seems to subscribe to Poe's exact philosophy of anti-establishment-ness. Turns out, though, Theo is the mayor's son.Read more ›
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.
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
Michael Harmon did a good job addressing some very serious issues that face teens today with the at times over the top, but definitely strong and very likeable, sassy punk rock Poe; as she puts it all on the line to stand-up for what she believes in. I also appreciate that Harmon saw fit to have Poe called out when she was out of line; pointing out that even when intentions are in the right place, how a person goes about addressing a problem can be the difference between improving a situation or making things worse.
As a story of friendship, compassion, respect, deliverance, character, support and forgiveness; BRUTAL has a fantastic message geared for young people, but can be appreciated by readers of all ages.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Captivating book, with super discription, felt that i could see everything as it happenend. Was guessing the plot the whole time! Loved itPublished 10 months ago by Clodagh Scott
I think books like these are important to keep awareness and dialogue about bullying open. That being said, while I think the issues in the book are important, the execution wasn't... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Elizabeth @ so long and thanks for all the fish
Michael Harmon's books are targeted for the mid-level teen, judging from his writing. I'm nearly an adult, and despite the simple language, I really enjoy his books. Read morePublished on July 15, 2014 by DJ
I have few authors on my target list of what to buy. Michael Harmon is one. This is the best of the 3 I've read.Published on March 18, 2010 by D. Coles
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. Read morePublished on June 10, 2009 by Sarah Librarian
Brutal introduces us to Poe Holly who is being uprooted from her current life and literally shipped to a life of suburbia with a father she hardly knows and, from all extent and... Read morePublished on April 4, 2009 by Tina