Written by: Jennifer Brown
Number of Pages: 274
Average Rating: 3.78 / 5 stars
My Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Published: May 21, 2013
Read in November 2018
Summary According to Goodreads
Ashleigh’s boyfriend, Kaleb, is about to leave for college, and Ashleigh is worried that he’ll forget about her while she’s away. So at a legendary end-of-summer pool party, Ashleigh’s friends suggest she text him a picture of herself - sans swimsuit - to take with him. Before she can talk herself out of it, Ashleigh strides off to the bathroom, snaps a photo in the full-length mirror, and hits “send”.
But when Kaleb and Ashleigh go through a bad breakup, Kaleb takes revenge by forwarding the text to his baseball team. Soon the photo has gone viral, attracting the attention of the school board, the local police, and the media. As her friends and family try to distance themselves from the scandal, Ashleigh feels completely alone - until she meets Mack while serving her court-ordered community service. Not only does Mack offer a fresh chance at friendship, but he’s the one person in town who received the text of Ashleigh’s photo - and didn’t look.
This novel opens on Ashleigh in community service, and we continue to delve right into the aftermath of her trauma. I was a little disappointed in the lack of resolution, as I don’t think Ashleigh completely understands her share in what happened. Although she was indeed a victim and was bullied harshly because of it, she was ignorant of how her decision affected so many other people around her - including her family. She refused to admit that she was as much to blame as Kaleb was, and the entire novel was filled with immaturity and lack of empathy.
In a contemporary novel it is so important to have strong and independent characters, but I felt that they were not completely developed in this story. As I mentioned Ashleigh was very immature, but unfortunately she was not the only one amongst her crowd. It was almost painful to read the interactions between Ashleigh and her ex-boyfriend Kaleb as it was the cliché breakup experience we could all expect when one goes to college and the other stays behind. At the beginning of the novel Ashleigh started off with a big group of friends and although none specifically up and ditched her, she cut everyone off from her life and isolated herself in her misery.
Jennifer Brown has a very smooth writing style that makes this a very quick and engaging read, but was also aided by splitting the story into both past and present. I think this is a very important novel for young girls to read, especially those with the means to get themselves into this kind of trouble. When I was growing up there wasn’t a huge discussion about the dangers of sending these kinds of pictures, but it’s also not something I ever considered doing. Another aspect of this novel that is so underrated is that there is a female-male friendship that involves absolutely no romance. The only romance in this novel is the brief run of Ashleigh and Kaleb, but with Mack they are just supportive of one another through their community service. I think it is refreshing to read a story where friendship is a focus and to show that even in dark times there are some people that can look through the bad to see the good.
Overall, I think that was worth the read as it covers an important issue, and teaches lessons such as friendship, family, and bullying. I think I would have enjoyed this more had I read it a few years ago, but I still recommend it to readers, but teen girls specifically.