Send, by Patty Blount, is one of the new young adult novels that I recently picked up on a Barnes and Noble shopping spree. I feel a need to make sure I am reading a wider variety of books so that I can give student recommendations more easily. I know that I need to find books that would appeal to boys, and this seemed like it might be a good choice.
Send focuses on the aftermath of bullying. Daniel Ellison is starting his senior year at a new high school where no one knows his history, and he must keep it that way. No one can find out that he spent time in a juvenile detention center at the age of thirteen for causing a classmate’s suicide. So when he arrives at school on his very first day and sees a fight about to happen, Daniel must make an important decision. Does he walk away and allow a boy to be bullied, or does he step in and stop the fight, risking the discovery of his past? Going against the voice inside his head, he decides to try to stop the fight. Daniel’s decision to step in creates his reputation and sets the tone for the rest of his school year. This decision also leads Dan into an initially unwilling friendship with Julie, a girl who watched him stop the fight, and who seems to know that he has a secret.
I had never heard of this book before I saw it on the shelves, so I didn’t know what to expect when I began reading it. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised. In my opinion, the story line was very realistic and I feel like as the narrator, Daniel is a character that teens can easily relate to – especially boys. It was refreshing to see a story from the perspective of a (former) bully, and to get an idea of how deeply those poor choices affect such a person years later. Many people may think that a bully has no regret for the way they have treated others, but in Daniel’s case this isn’t true. His guilt and remorse is clear throughout the story and they are what drive many of his choices. My only complaint about the novel was the voice inside Daniel’s head, which I mentioned briefly in the synopsis. Daniel literally has a voice that he hears in his head, and with which he converses. While the role of this inner voice is very important to the story, I feel like it became distracting. Overall, though, I felt like the book was a very worthwhile read. When I find myself thinking of a book and its characters days after I have finished reading it, I know that I’ve found a good one.
Would I recommend this book to students? Yes. My only hesitation would be adult language and a brief adult scenario – again, as a teacher, I am often careful in what I tell kids to read; I don’t want to suggest anything their parents wouldn’t approve of! 🙂