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Reviewed by Susan van der Walt for Readers' Favorite
Despite the Buzz by Tamara Miller Davis is a book dealing with the social issues related to technology and the use of social media. It takes place over six weeks and tells the story of Gabby Oliver as the new Creative Writing teacher for Heart High School. She grew up before cellphones and taught teenagers who know nothing else. She wants her pupils to experience writing by hand through journalling, one section private as a conversation with themselves, and the other for the teacher to read. In this way, they learn the difference between personal communication and writing for an audience. A private photo of a pupil shared online leads to a shooting incident in her class, forcing Gabby to rethink her stance regarding tech.
Tamara Miller Davis uses the story to highlight the many dangers of cellphone and social media use. Put yourself in Gabby's shoes - a newbie starting her teaching career. Not allowing her students to use cellphones in her class takes guts. And when she begins to find her feet, a young man walks into her classroom with a gun! Can you feel the tightening in Gabby's stomach, realizing she is the only responsible adult in the room? And afterward, she wonders, "Could I have prevented this? Could I have handled things differently?" Leeland, a young man, is now branded a criminal, but she feels he should be a hero. Despite the Buzz is an intriguing story that shows there are consequences to all our actions, not only on social media. I recommend it to teenagers and young adults.