Bullying Books: “I Swear”

I Swear by Lane Davis    I swear

Leslie Gatlin commits suicide in the prologue to I Swear, fulfilling the wishes of a group of girl bullies, who had been urging her to kill herself.

Why did these girls do this? Much as in Some Girls Are, the girls are following the instructions of the school’s queen bee, Macie Merrick. Macie has two faces. She is the class president. She is the daughter of a Washington State senator. Like him, she is extremely good looking, and has a silver tongue, knowing just what to say to please the people around her. She has charisma and can charm the socks off her classmates. And like her father, Macie is a practiced liar, one who objectifies others while using them to reach personal goals.

But why pick on Leslie Gatlin, a move that could smirch Macie’s own reputation?

Leslie has got the eye of Jake, the guy that Macie wants. But Jake is on to her tricks and wants nothing to do with her. Macie wants revenge. If she can’t have Jake, then no one can.

The book opens with the girl group—Macie, Jillian, Beth, Krista, and Katherine—sending an email to Leslie entitled “Top Ten Things to Remember in Your Suicide Note.”  (#4 Tell everyone how sorry you are that you won’t be at prom this year, so someone else will have to be “worst dressed.”) When Leslie actually does kill herself, all of the girls want to scramble away from their part in bullying her. No one accepts any responsibility. Macie is even using her father’s political power and his staff to protect herself. In a horrific ploy, she announces—in front of TV cameras—that she is starting a teen suicide prevention club at her school.

With Leslie’s parents pressing charges and all of the girls making depositions under oath, Macie tries to see which ones she can throw under the bus. The girls and a few guys like Jake, work back through their memories of how this whole thing started until the book winds up where it started—the night of the “Top Ten” email and Leslie’s suicide.

This is a powerful book about a very real kind of bullying—both online and in person, at school. The organization—each chapter is from the point of view of one of the characters—works well except for the little set-ups to get the characters thinking. (Too many trips to the video store and Starbucks for me, but that may not bug most people.)

High school housekeeping: I recommend this book for anyone. The rotten and narcissistic characters are very realistic as are those more sympathetic. Again, we can see that people who combine their efforts at being mean can do a lot more damage together than they can individually. In this way, the book is not only like Some Girls Are, but also like Thirteen Reasons Why. Fans of Thirteen Reasons who are looking for something similar have just found it.

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About Victoria Waddle

I'm a high school librarian, formerly an English teacher. I love to read and my mission is to connect people with the right books. To that end, I read widely--from the hi-lo for reluctant high school readers to the literary adult novel for the bibliophile.
This entry was posted in Controversial Issue/Debate, Family Problems, Fiction, Young Adult Literature and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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