Author: Cammie McGovern.
Published: October 6th 2015 by HarperTeen.
Emily has always been the kind of girl who tries to do the right thing—until one night when she does the worst thing possible. She sees Belinda, a classmate with developmental disabilities, being attacked. Inexplicably, she does nothing at all. Belinda, however, manages to save herself. When their high school finds out what happened, Emily and Lucas, a football player who was also there that night, are required to perform community service at a center for disabled people. Soon, Lucas and Emily begin to feel like maybe they're starting to make a real difference. Like they would be able to do the right thing if they could do that night all over again. But can they do anything that will actually help the one person they hurt the most?
Belinda lives together with her mother and grandmother. Her mother is depressive and Belinda has development disabilities. One day she is attacked and two people see it happen: Emily and football player Lucas. Both of them decide to do nothing. This story is about the effect of this event and their choices on all three of them.
The story switches POV between Belinda, Emily and Lucas. I think my main problem was the fact I didn’t feel connected with them. Belinda had a distance in her voice, which was understandable, but that made it hard to feel anything for her. It was sad that she had to endure the attack and it's terrible her disabilities prevent her from completely understanding what happened. This resulted in chapters about her obsession with Pride & Prejudice, her love for the theater and her growing friendship with another disabled boy, instead of an emotional process.
The realization of what happened and the aftermath of the assault was much bigger on Emily and Lucas, who have to deal with their guilt. They are both signed up for community service with challenged teenagers. I liked their development throughout the story and how they deal with their wrong decision. It’s obvious they are both shocked by their reaction in the situation. Despite that, I didn’t care much about Emily or Lucas. They never spoke to me and I already can’t think of one thing that makes them stand out to me.
I think it’s a good plot that made me think. How would I react in a situation like that? It's hard to say, because I completely understand why both Emily and Lucas turned their head away. I think many people quickly decided 'someone else is probably going to take care of it.' I think I would not immediately do something about it, but I would call someone, like the police - or in this case one of the teachers. The disconnection from the characters made this book less impressive than Say what you will though.
What about you? How do you think you would have responded in this situation?