Friday, September 12, 2014

Mini Review: I Swear

Who’s to blame when bullying leads to suicide? A gripping exploration of crucial importance seeks answers in and out of the courtroom.

After years of abuse from her classmates, Leslie Gatlin decided she had no other options and took her own life. Now her abusers are dealing with the fallout.

When Leslie's parents file a wrongful death lawsuit against their daughter's tormenters, the proceedings uncover the systematic cyber bullying and harassment that occurred. The ringleader of the accused girls, Macie, maintains they are innocent. In her mind, Leslie chose be the coward they always knew she was.

Jillian, Katherine, and Beth try to keep their stories straight and shift the blame, as Jake, Leslie's only true friend, tries to make sense of what happened. As the events leading up to her death unfold, it becomes clear that Leslie may have taken her own life, but her bullies took everything else.

Told in alternating perspectives and through well-paced flashbacks, this timely novel sheds light on both the victims of bullying and the consequences bullies face.

When I started this book I struggled to keep track of all the different characters who were narrating; they felt almost like cardboard cutout representations of various character traits or stereotypes. It felt like they lacked depth and weren't fully developed. However, that was just the beginning. The characters didn't feel developed, they were hard to tell apart in the early chapters because I didn't know them yet. I didn't know who they were or why they made the choices they did.

You're just plunged into the beginning of this book as if you're just being tossed into the events as they are happening; it's strange. It's almost as if you were Rip Van Winkle and you suddenly came awake in all of this drama and had no idea how you got there. But then the story takes off from there and through a mixture of what is going on in the present, and flashbacks, you begin to get a clearer picture. It isn't until the end of the book that you have the entire story, but it isn't the entire story because we never hear from Leslie. So like any suicide there is the question of what was going on in her mind, what made her chose to do what she did; all we have are the stories leading up to it.

By the halfway point I felt myself tearing up and I was tearing through the short chapters, craving more information, I had to know (like the characters themselves) why things had gone the way they had and what had made them make the choices that they had...for better or for worse. Closer to the end I had tears running down my cheeks and a tightening in my chest as things started to come together. I Swear was a powerful story in a small package. It was a story of bullying, of blackmail, of pushing people to their limits, suicide, and learning to live with your choices. Or not.



  1. Thanks for sharing! This is such a fitting review for this week, which is National Suicide Prevention Week (Wednesday was World Suicide Prevention Day).

    1. It did seem perfectly fitting. I hadn't planned on reading it in time for National Suicide Prevention Week but something about the book called to me so I got lucky and managed to squeeze it in. I hope a lot of others are able to read it [and by it I mean the book, not necessarily my review] and take good from it. [: