“A punch to the jaw wasn’t how I imagined starting my first day at another new school, but fate had a warped sense of humor.”
So begins Send, with Daniel (and/or Ken) making the decision to intervene in what looks like a smaller student about to be beaten by a bigger guy.
Dan doesn’t make the decision lightly. He sees a girl watching–he later learns that it’s Julie–and thinks that she will say something to the bully (Jeff). But she refuses to intervene. Dan, who has had to move from school to school, is supposed to be flying under the radar, not getting involved in anything, certainly not making enemies out of tough guys. But how can he stand by and watch?
Ironic, this. Because Dan has a secret that he hopes to keep from the entire school, the thing that has kept him on the move, fleeing from a man who wants revenge. At thirteen, Dan–when he was Ken–cyberbullied a twelve-year-old boy by posting online a picture of him in babyish underwear. The consequences are the worst possible. Justice is swift. Dan finds himself not only locked up, but labeled as a sexual predator and more. He is bullied in juvenile detention and is a terrible mess–physically and mentally and emotionally–when he comes out.
Dan breaks into two personalities–he is also still Ken, but Ken remains a thirteen year old. Dan is consumed with guilt and considers himself a murderer. So when Julie takes an interest in him, he’s not sure that he should get involved. After all, he can’t tell her the truth about himself.
What Dan doesn’t realize is that a lot of people have something to hide. All the major characters in this story are a hot mess. No one really knows the motivation for anyone else’s actions. And that can cause a lot of trouble, even deadly trouble.
High school housekeeping: Send is a thoughtful book about the consequences of impulsive actions and whether people have a ‘duty to respond’ when they see something that isn’t right. It’s also a suspenseful ride through a crazy senior year for a guy who is trying to redeem himself. It includes some interesting views of friendship and romance as well. While the writing is not ‘literary quality,’ and the book has too many coincidences, the reader doesn’t mind. As a whole, the novel is satisfying, Combine all that with a movie-like white-knuckler ending, and you have a book that just about any teen would love. I think Send would make a great teen book club choice. Luckily, it includes some discussion questions at the end for those interested in doing so. Altogether, a very satisfying read. Enjoy
Thanks for another great review about a book I now want to read. Also appreciate the link to YALSA’s Nominees.