Thursday, May 03, 2007

Over Her Head by Shelley Bates

Review of Shelley Bates's latest novel, Over Her Head. Originally published at Armchair Interviews.

Laurie Hale has it all: a loving husband, a place in the community and in the church, and two lovely children. The perfect family, the perfect life, with everything under control--until she goes jogging one day and discovers the body of one of her teenage daughter's classmates along the riverbank.

Suddenly life gets a lot more complicated and a lot less perfect.

When the police begin questioning Anna and her friends, Laurie finds that having it all is the least of her worries. When she loses the support of her church Bible study ladies, it's almost the last straw. Laurie is in over her head and her world spirals out of her control.

This book is riveting. I found it both difficult to read and difficult to put down. My heart ached for the school and church community as they dealt with the aftermath of Randi's death. My emotions ran very high as I read of Laurie's struggles to try and keep it all together and do it all herself. Daughter Anna's anguish is painted with very real brush strokes. The cyberbullying she endures in the wake of this tragedy is a real phenomenon. I attended a workshop about this very thing at our local elementary school a few weeks ago. It's real and it's horrifying.

All in all, author Shelley Bates does a fabulous job telling this heartbreaking story. My hope is that parents who read this will have their eyes opened to the nonfiction Internet world of cyberbullying and pay attention to their teen's emails, instant messaging, and cell text messages.

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