Reviewed by Karin of Savvy Thinker
I'm sorry it took so long to read this book, but it was well worth the wait.
Catching Fireflies was given to me with two other books in the series by LRP to read and review. First, I can't recommend it enough if you are the least bit interested in the subject of bullying. If I had had my choice, I would have read this book last, but it came out in August, so I needed to read it first.
And as so often happens, what we read in books dovetails with RL.
Sweet Magnolias is a wonderful series. I forget how wonderful when I let too much time lapse between books. Then I need to play a bit of catch up. I seriously do not remember the love stories of the other books. I almost need a little cheat sheet. Each book stands alone, with a little bit of information bringing you up to speed.
Meantime, back to the book: the school has zero tolerance, but no one will talk about what is happening. Misty has been cutting two of her classes, even though she is a good student. Annabelle has been targeting her and is getting more vicious. It started because Greg, popular and on the football team, who is supposed to be Annabelle's boyfriend, has been after Misty, who has no interest in him.
Laura Reed, one of the teachers whose class Misty is cutting, knows something is wrong, but can't get to the bottom of it.
Then Misty goes to see her pediatrician, J.C. Fullerton, to ask for a medical pass, which he will not give her since she is not sick. But he immediately knows something is seriously wrong and gives her 24 hours to talk to another adult and have the adult check back with him so he knows she has done it. If she doesn't, he will talk to her parents.
The adult she chooses is Laura Reed, but she doesn't tell her what is happening. Laura and J.C. together will need to figure it out. And both have their reasons for wanting to eradicate bullying. Misty's friend Katie has been sworn to secrecy. How can she help unless she finds a way.
I was afraid Misty might try to commit suicide (she doesn't) (thankfully.) The problem is acerbated by the fact that Misty's parents are in the middle of divorcing and Misty's mother isn't handling it well. She can hardly function. Misty is trying to protect her, as well as protect her from knowing anything about what is happening.
Meantime Laura and J.C. are falling in love. Both have had some rough spots that make the love story all the sweeter. There is humor and sex off the page, if that makes sense. Very well done.
The book is a great primer, without being didactic, on the problem of bullying. Along the way, you can see how vicious it might become, how to join forces to protect the one being bullied, how to get the adults involved.
It is absolutely important that if bullying is going on, everyone circle the wagons. It takes a village. We think of it more as school drama, but adult bullying sometimes happens in RL. We see this in the book as an ongoing incident when Annabelle's mother refuses to believe, at first, that her daughter is involved. And she has acted as a bully before.
Have you ever been bullied?
My Chinese daughters were teased about the third grade in a school with zero tolerance for bullying. At the time I didn't understand how their teasing was different than what I was teased with as I grew up, but mine had no racial overtones. It bordered on bullying. The school took it very seriously when they found out about it, and I was afraid of backlash, which never happened.
When my oldest daughter was going into middle school, there was an article on stopping bullying which I wanted to pass on to the school. At that time they weren't interested and said it just happens. I said, considering the incidents of violence at schools, there was no excuse, and I dropped the article off anyway. Who knows what they did with it.
Now there is zero tolerance there also. One example given in it was that a popular girl started an anti-bullying campaign (it would only work with a popular girl/boy) and had business cards made up for all who would be a part of it.
There were times in my life when I became aware of an adult acting as a bully, and at the same time of another adult who was protective. Judging from outward appearances, one would never have expected the second person to be the protector. But it was touching to see how natural it was for that person -- and how the two incidents were happening during the same time frame, unknown to each other. It seemed like God's grace to the person being bullied, and so the individual felt safer.
In this regard, the book is very true to life and offers ideas in a gentle way, in the guise of fiction.
Have you read this book or any others of hers?
I can't wait to get into the next two books -- immediately, if not sooner. Stay tuned for the next review.