Author: Gordon Reece
Publication Year: 2011
Publisher: Viking Adult
Date Completed: 8/1/2011
Rating: 3.5/5Recommend: yes (as a YA novel)
Fifteen year old Shelley Rivers and her mom are like "mice" : they fear confrontation, have trouble sticking up for themselves, and both seem a bit uncomfortable in their own skin.
Shelley has led a pretty sheltered life. Her mom was a brilliant lawyer, but she choose to stick to procedural research which felt more comfortable for her. She left her job when she was pregnant for Shelley to be a stay at home mother, because that is what her husband wanted her to do. Shelley had two best friends from age nine, Emily and Jane. All three girls studied hard and got good grades, but when the girls entered their teen years, Emily and Jane let their grades slip, began dressing like punks, and changed their focus to makeup and boys. Shelley still wore her jumpers and buckle shoes, and preferred her books to the wilder activities of her friends.
Her friends soon began to exclude her, tease her about her looks and her extra weight, and even began destroying her possessions. Shelley even considers suicide. A classic case of bullying, Shelley did not tell her mom or her teachers, fearing it would only make the situation worst. When things get out of hand and Shelley is injured, the world of this mother and daughter is forever changed. Shelley's father leaves the "matrimonial" home after falling in love with a much younger woman, and he they move far away. Shelley is encouraged to leave school and have private tutors instead.
Mom and daughter find a new home, a lovely remote cottage with gardens in the middle of nowhere. Her mom goes off to work each day and Shelley has tutors that come to their new home each day. The two soon fall into the new rhythm of daily life, and are enjoying their life of routines. "Mice", however, cannot hide indefinitely, and on the eve of Shelley's sixteenth birthday, the security of that new peaceful existence is shattered when their home is broken into while they sleep.
What happens from this point on between mother and daughter and the burglar is a series of events, some so far fetched that I had to just suspend logic. Without giving any spoilers, I'll just say that there seemed to be a moral to the story.....those who stick up for themselves, will no longer feel like mice.
While the first half of the book had me eagerly flipping pages, the second half was somewhat disappointing. The situation as it played out seemed highly unlikely and actually a bit laughable. I originally was excited about this book as bullying is a real issue and all too commonplace it seems. I thought this book was a psychological thriller, and in some ways it was, but this novel really seemed more in the YA genre, and that is the audience that I believe it will get high marks from. The author did a good job portraying Shelley as a sympathetic character as the bullying incidents seemed very realistic and it was easy to feel for Shelley and her situation. The fact that she felt she couldn't tell anyone about what was going on, and that maybe suicide would be the only way out of her situation, also seemed like things that some teens would be thinking under the circumstances. The author also did a great job building tension and suspense into this story. Even though this did not turn out exactly as I had hoped, in the end I was still glad I read it.