To keep his secrets, all he has to do is listen to the voice in his head and just walk away...
On his first day at his new high school, Dan stops a bully from beating up a kid half his size. He didn't want to get involved. All he wants out of his senior year is to fly under the radar. But Dan knows what it's like to be terrorized by a bully-he used to be one. Now the whole school thinks he's some kind of hero, except Julie Murphy, the prettiest girl on campus. She looks at him like she knows he has a secret. Like she knows his name isn't really Daniel.
I knew going into Send that it would address the ever-increasing prevelancy of cyber-bullying amongst teens. However, I didn't expect for it to address so many other heavy issues that teens face, such as depression, suicide, schizophrenia, and yes, even having sex for the first time. Send is emotional, raw, and a bit terrifying.
Daniel "Dan" Ellison is a good kid who made a bad decision. It all seemed so juvenile and harmless at the time, but one click of the button had far-reaching and life-altering consequences. We are introduced to Dan on the first day of his senior year of high school, where he is once again a new person in a new town, living a new life in the aftermath of his bad decision. He sees a kid getting bullied in the parking lot and steps in to stop the altercation, immediately earning a "bad ass hero badge" amongst his peers. Little do they know that Dan was a bully himself not so long ago.
From an outside perspective, Dan has certainly been punished enough for what he did, but he won't stop punishing himself. It doesn't help that the voice inside his head berates him, too. All Dan wants to do is lay low, begin a new life, keep his family safe, and bury his horrible past. However, when he saves Brandon, makes an enemy of Jeff, and meets Julie, he finds that he can't run from his past any longer.
Throughout the story, which is well-paced, we learn about Dan's background and the tragedies he has caused and faced. You would think that someone branded as a bully, and much worse, would not be sympathetic character, but Dan certainly was. Once again, we learn that nothing is black-and-white, and that truly good people often do bad things.
I really enjoyed the character development in Send. Dan grew by leaps and bounds, although he struggled quite a bit. The "dialogue" that he has with Kenny, the voice in his head and a 13-year-old version of himself, was often witty, sometimes annoying, and almost always poignant. The relationships that he developed with Brandon and Julie were natural and touching.
There were quite a few twists and turns throughout Send, some of which were a bit predictable. Brandon is clearly not stable and on a downward spiral as the bullying continues, despite Dan's best attempts to stop it. There is also something going on with Julie, who can be so cold and hostile at times, and warm and loving at others. Overall, Patty Blount did a good job of taking the story off-course and making the reader focus on one thing while surprising them with something else in the end. The climax was pretty intense and my eyes couldn't scan the pages fast enough to find out what happened next.
There is a sprinkling of romance throughout the pages, which, I'll admit, left me a little breathless. First love always does that to me! However, I will say that I was a bit disappointed with the ending and how the romance seemed to become the focus. I also wasn't crazy by how the various threads of the story were left so open-ended, and wish there had been more closure or a more positive resolution.
Whether you have been a victim or perpetrator of cyber-bullying, or even if you've only witnessed it, Send is guaranteed to evoke some powerful emotions. I hope that books like Send will be an eye-opener for our technology-driven society, and that they act as a catalyst of change amongst teenage relationships everywhere.
One decision can truly change your life. Whether it's for the better or the worse is up to you.
In 2004, my son had a growth spurt. He hit five foot nine, started shaving, endured some vicious acne and all the other curses of puberty and so, became the favorite target of a group of little boys who thought it was great fun to tear down the giant. This torment had gone on for months before I ever learned about it.
I didn’t learn about it until my son told me he no longer wanted to live.
He was in sixth grade. Today, he’s in college and doing well, but I will tell you he bears deep scars from his ordeal.
Let’s skip to 2009: a new executive at my day job directed us to start incorporating social media into our work. I knew nothing about networks like Facebook and Twitter and had a lot of homework to do before I could figure out how to meet his directive. The more work I did, the more grateful I became that none of these networks were around back in 2004.
If they had been, I’m sure I would have lost my son.
Social networks are great tools. They give a voice to anyone with an internet connection, they allow us to remain connected to folks we’d otherwise have lost touch with, and they expose us to news before the networks can report it. Here’s the irony: the things that make social networks so great are also the very things that make them so dangerous. The problem with everyone having a voice is that we can’t readily determine which voices are qualified to support the opinions being stated and which are just hot air. Remaining connected can easily become stalking. And, ‘news’ may be nothing more than rumor. (Bon Jovi did not die in December of 2011.)
I have two more bullet points for the Danger list: First, many of us are more likely to say something snarky online than directly to someone’s face. Psychologist John Suler calls this the Online Disinhibition Effect and what’s really scary is most of us aren’t even aware we’re caught up in it. According to Suler, the internet makes us all anonymous and invisible and because there’s no online authority, exaggerates our own sense of self.
In other words – it’s a power trip and power is pretty much the bully’s objective, isn’t it?
Second, there is the immediacy of it and I want to stress that this is NOT a trap limited only to teens. Adults are just as likely to lose their tempers and take inappropriate action based on anger as teens. This is actually why I chose SEND as the title of my book – because the Send key is RIGHT THERE at the top of the screen, just itching to be clicked before you’ve carefully crafted the message you want to express.
I think it’s important for all of us to remember two things: first, technology is not a toy and second, children are not short adults, which means that is exactly how they’ll treat technology. Social sites, smart phones and the internet have the potential for positive and negative results. I don’t know how children can distinguish the good from the bad without guidance from adults.
How old were your children when you bought them a cell phone? Are they on Facebook or Twitter? Do you know who they’re talking to? Better question – do you know who’s talking to them?
Thanks to Patty Blount and Sourcebooks, I have one copy of Send for a giveaway to residents from the US or Canada. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below!
*A copy was provided by the publisher as part of the It Only Takes One Click blog tour.