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Girl Over the Edge by Amy Kinzer is both shocking and relevant to young adult readers. Handling a number of intense topics- including divorce, sexual harassment, and suicide- the book tells the story of one girl’s self-destruction as seen through the eyes of her best friend, Beckett. Both Beckett and Chloe become outcasts in their school after a party-gone-wrong. The only difference is that Beckett has a chance of regaining a normal life while Chloe feels hers is slipping away. The horrific effects of bullying in this book are painted in an all-too-realistic light; Chloe seems to invite the taunting she receives from her peers, as if she feels she deserves it. Although the book is full of stereotypical characters (such as the clueless popular girls and the heartless, dumb jock/bully), the ways in which Chloe and Beckett react to the events in the book are what give this story its impact.
Beckett struggles with decisions that many young adults will find familiar. One of the most difficult is whether or not she should try to keep her bond with Chloe when it keeps dragging her into serious trouble. How much can-or should- she help her friend? Chloe’s habit of craving attention, no matter how dangerous it might be, is another reason readers might find this book tugging at their chest. Many young adults have been in Chloe’s shoes, or at least know someone from their own lives, their own schools, who has. This book has its flaws: the writing style makes the secondary characters seem totally flat, and the ending seems totally out of place for such a serious plot. In addition, the majority of male characters in the book are shown in an extremely negative light. They are either emotionally distant, completely absent, or sexually depraved jerks. The only exceptions to this are Beckett’s younger brother (only briefly mentioned) and a mysterious bum who lives underneath the interstate bridge (whose important role is undone by the last few paragraphs). In spite of a few shortcomings, this book does a good job of handling some serious content. Bullying, sexual harassment, and suicide are serious problems plaguing middle schools and high schools everywhere. Readers might be in need of a dose of reality about how their actions affect the people around them.