Author: Patty Blount
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: August 1, 2012
Number of Pages: 291
Source of Book: Bought the paperback
It's been five years since I clicked Send. Four years since I got out of juvie. Three months since I changed my name. Two minutes since I met Julie. A second to change my life. To keep his secrets, all he has to do is listen to the voice in his head and just walk away...I was intrigued by the cover and summary of SEND when I saw it on a New Releases table at the bookstore, and as I'm always on the lookout for quality books related to bullying that will possibly engage my students, I decided I definitely wanted to read it. I was unprepared for the intensity of the story I would enter and the perspective that I would be seeing. From the first page, I was drawn into the story through the voice of the main character. Patty Blount uses an interesting tactic with an internal voice battling Dan throughout the book, and it added a much-needed depth to the story that allowed for the reader to feel a better understanding of what Dan's internal conflict is and how he grows in accepting his own circumstances.
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.
Unfortunately, we all too often hear the stories of bullycides and hear about a final straw event or attack that happens right before. In this case, Dan caused the final straw event, and a young boy is dead. We don't often hear from the standpoint of the bully in these cases, and it isn't one we often sympathize with, but I think it's imperative as we try to send messages to students about bullying, that they see the perspective of the other side. In this case, Dan is that other side, but he's on the other side of spending time in juvie for his actions, and his life has been irrevocably changed. He thinks of himself as a murderer, even though he was a good kid before that, and his inner demons lead him to step in when he sees another kid being bullied so he can stop it. He doesn't want others to make the mistakes he has and he doesn't want anyone else to suffer in the way his victim did. It's an intense story, and as Dan starts to realize how much he likes Julie, and as he tries to befriend Brandon who is constantly being bullied, he has to come to accept some of the choices he has made and how to get past them so he can have a life. He made some big mistakes, but he's learned from them, and his focus is on not allowing those things to happen again. He doesn't think he deserves to be happy and have a girlfriend, but he is alive, so what's the use of that if he doesn't live? One of the strongest parts of this story for me were the interactions of Dan with his parents and grandfather. The family unit is strong in his life and it seems honest in the way that they fight for him and try to help him to be able to live a life beyond the mistakes he made.