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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
Bullying is never okay! That is what they always say in schools all over the world, but is it just a platitude that those in authority spout, without truly adhering to? In Cascading Petals, by Jane C Brady, we face bullying head-on, not in an abstract manner, but in a deeply personal and realistic way. Jewel Hart has spent most of her school days as the subject of intense bullying; bullying that has lowered her self-esteem and led her to question her place in the world, whether she even belongs here. In this her final year, a senior now, she hopes and prays that things will be different and the year will fly by until she is released to be an adult, to go to college and to escape the remorseless taunting and pain. When Jewel meets Kaiden Carter, she believes she has finally found a kindred spirit, someone she can believe in and trust. Maybe this final year will be a good one after all, she consoles herself. For Jewel and her new friends, the final year of high school will bring the subjects of bullying and teen suicide to a dramatic head, teaching them all something important about themselves and the world.
Cascading Petals is very much a teen romance story and one that is beautifully told by author Jane C Brady, but it is very much more than that. The author uses the story to explore dark and often hitherto hidden places where teenage minds and angst can reside, especially when faced with the hurtful taunts and lies of not only their peers, but even some of their teachers. The ulterior motive of this book was clearly to shine a light into areas that we, as adults, are often afraid to go and to show just how incredibly debilitating systematic and concerted bullying can be, not just to those being bullied, but often to the perpetrators themselves. Brady tells the story in a no-holds-barred narrative and yet maintains a sensitivity and a compassion that we wish were present inside of those who choose to relieve their own inner pain at the expense of others. The characters are real and perhaps not even your typical target of bullies, but I’m sure that was the intent of the author also; to show that it is not only the overweight, or the acne ridden, or the socially awkward teenagers who can be the butt of these young people’s anger and hurt. This is one of the best books on the subject I’ve read and Brady is to be congratulated for telling this difficult story without resorting to clichés and over-emotional responses. A great job.