Ann Aguirre is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. She likes books, emo music, and action movies. She writes all kinds of genre fiction for adults and teens.
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Edie has been relentlessly bullied, and she’s come to the end of her rope. Mysterious and beautiful boy Kian shows up to make her dreams come true. That is, if she signs an agreement with him and his magical faction. She’s skeptical, but decides she has nothing to lose. Her desire for revenge against her bullies outweighs everything. And she knows exactly what she wants from Kian.
Over the summer he makes her beautiful, transforms her. She’ll be able to slip into the crowd that devastated her life. She’ll destroy them from the inside. As it all unfolds, Edie learns more about Kian’s world and what it is their agreement requires. His world is a dark world, filled with cold and harsh people. Like Edie, Kian has a dark past and she wants so badly to trust him completely, but something’s standing in her way.
It’s not okay to be different in a small, Midwestern town.
This was true when I was in high school, probably still is.
Early high school wasn’t terrible for me, but the longer it went on, the more obvious it was that I didn’t fit in. Chubby. Bookish. Acerbic wit and sharp tongue that I didn’t always have the empathy to keep quiet. I wasn’t friendless until my senior year. My circle had been getting smaller as more and more people decided I wasn’t cool or that it was better to make fun of me than to hang out. I could write a post just on the way teenagers make each other feel horrible, but I’m sure we already know.
Let’s make this post more personal instead. My senior year, I finally stood up to the few friends I had left because they did a mean thing and I got punished for it. As a result, I had no friends left. By fall of my senior year, I was the invisible girl. Nobody spoke to me or acknowledged me, full shunning. Yes, they had the power to make it happen. I ate in the bathroom alone, like Edie.
On the surface, I seemed fine. Associate editor of the yearbook, Spanish Club, Science Club, National Honor Society, President of Thespians, Debate team. I had all kind of activities under my picture in the yearbook but outside of those school-sponsored extracurriculars I had only my job. I doubt anyone knew how bad I felt. There was no one for me to tell. Like Edie, I wondered if anyone would care if I checked out, and the only reason I didn’t was because I didn’t want to leave a mess for my parents to clean up. Process that for a moment. That’s how thoroughly my self-esteem was destroyed by my peers. I didn’t see myself as a smart, valuable person, for whom my family might conceivably grieve. I saw myself as garbage, rubbish to be hauled away. That’s the impact of bullying—when day after day, you hear that you’re a loser, worthless, ugly, gross, unlovable, awful, horrible. After that, the silence of complete exile is preferable.
By the semester break, I knew I had to get out of that place or I wouldn’t survive. So I contacted the principal and requested to finish afternoon classes on independent study, so I could work more to save for college. He thought the idea was absurd but since I was a good talker, he eventually consented to sign off, if I could get approval from my three afternoon teacher. Then I went and got it done, because I was fighting for my survival. If my principal and teachers hadn’t let me go, I don’t know how I would’ve coped. Like Edie, I might’ve ended up on a bridge.
My last semester of high school, I left at noon. I did homework on my own and took tests in the mornings before school. I worked 36 hours a week, saved for college, though I didn’t really believe I had a future ahead of me. When I graduated, I had a 3.5/4.0 GPA, #11 in my class. Working more, I survived the summer. I hated myself a little less.
In late August, I turned 18 and went off to college. Those who scoff at Edie’s recovery over the summer, who say a simple change of scene isn’t enough to save a person who has been bullied to the point of suicide? You’re wrong. Because if a couple of months and a change of scene couldn’t achieve that? I wouldn’t be here. Moral of this story? The tiniest things can save you.
What do you think we can do to make schools safer for our children?
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