Saturday, November 24, 2007

This Is What I Did by Ann Dee Ellis

Logan is a kid with a problem, and despite the strenuous efforts of his parents (they have moved the family across town and Logan has changed schools) it is a problem Logan can't seem to shake. Logan also can't seem to voice what the problem is, either to defend himself or to tell his side of the story. As a result, he spends most of the novel agonizing over the effects that his past is having on his present and being physically, verbally and emotionally brutalized by other kids at his school. Despite the rumors that have been circulating as to the nature of his involvement in this mysterious "incident," Logan manages to nurse a fledgling friendship with Laurel, another outsider with a penchant for palindromes.
It's not until the bullying gets out of hand and Logan is encouraged by his therapist to write down what happened that the reader - or anyone else, for that matter - finds out the nature of the incident and Logan's involvement in it. Logan was the sole witness to the attempted rape of a girl by his former best friend's father, and the subsequent near-deadly assault on the father by said best friend. Logan had nothing to do with what happened, but he blames himself for his own failure to do something about it at the time and it is this very paralysis that is at the center of his current predicament.
I did not enjoy reading this book. I found it painful and upsetting. This is testament to Ellis' skill as a writer for evoking uncomfortable emotions and for detailing (in an almost detached kind of way) the specifics and depths of teenage cruelty. The ending, however, is upbeat. Readers who sincerely enjoy the "problem novel" may want to give this a go.

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