October 8, 2012

book review: we're done

With bullying a hot button topic nationwide, Judy Irwin's young adult novel, We're Done, sheds light on the issue. Though bullying may be in the eyes of the beholder, in Irwin's book, a teenage boy must come to grips with the impression he makes on others and account for his actions.

The scoop:
What if it turns out that YOU'RE the bully - and you didn't know it?

Up until now, life has been good for 13-year-old Luke. He's good at sports, attractive, and he's a big wheel at Heyworth Academy, his private school. He likes to tease, and poke fun at the other kids, but that's just because he likes having fun. But things start to fall apart, six weeks into eighth grade, when Luke commits an act of 'goofing around' that ends up costing him his best friend and his beloved private school.

After he's expelled, Luke transfers to his local school, Carlyle. Now, he's on the outside looking in. His looks, and background (not to mention his Heyworth hoodie), make him stand out, and the tough guys zero in on him right away.
The upside-down world that Luke finds himself in at Carlyle gives him a whole new way of looking at things. Can he recover from losing his school, and his best friend, and find new friends and a way to fit in at Carlyle?
Age appropriate with an approachable voice for young adults, We're Done was a quick read. Though entertaining, the story's message was what most struck me.

As a central character, Luke offers a unique vessel to relay the anti-bullying message. Though not too likeable at first, over time, as Luke sees himself for who he really is, that perception changes. Initially, he thinks he is the one who is misunderstood and that his punishment is a mistake. Eventually, facing the new adversity forces him to take another look at the way he leads his life and how he treats others.

This story's message was done well, and teaches a good lesson: We may think we treat people a certain way, but until you take a look to examine your actions, you may not know it. Also, it shows that being a friend is more than having someone to sit next to at lunch, it is about respect and reliability.

This would be an especially beneficial read for middle school boys. I thought of my 13-year-old nephew while I read it, and the situations he faces now that he is of an age. I would highly recommend it to him and his friends as a realistic and educational read.

"Luke?" A red flush rose from her neck to her cheeks. "What are you – " She dropped the stapler with a clatter, and bent to grab it.

"Tash? Hey, what a coincidence," said Luke. "I go here now. Just started. I guess you go here too. Too funny."

"I thought you went to a private school," said the girl. Her face continued to redden. "So what are you doing here — at Carlyle?"

"Well, there was a misunderstanding," said Luke. "I mean, the principal at Heyworth misunderstood. Anyway, I’m here now. Don’t like it much yet." He laughed.

Tash frowned, and tucked her hair behind her left ear with her free hand. "Wow. Too bad for you, I guess," she said. She cleared her throat. "Well, hi and all, but — I’ve got to go. Say hi to Jon for me. I’ll see you around." She turned and took a step down the hall.

"Hey, wait, maybe we can hang out?" said Luke. "You’re practically the only person I know here. In fact, you are the only person I know — well, besides my new friend Mrs. Skelton. Want to meet up for lunch or something?"

Tash looked at Luke, and then looked at the floor. "You know what, I’m really busy at lunch," she said, looking back at him. Her neck reddened even more. "I'm in a lot of activities. I don't think I can. Sorry. I’ve got to go. It’s almost time for the bell." She turned again and started walking.

"Yeah, OK, whatever," said Luke. "Don't want to take up your time, I guess. See you around."
About the Author
Judy Irwin writes books about kids dealing with everyday stuff, like parents and divorce, friendships and bullies, and figuring out how to handle different situations and circumstances. So far, she's written two books: We're Done, and What Did You Say? We're Done is about 13-year-old Luke and how he figures out what went wrong when he's kicked out of school for a bullying incident. In What Did You Say?, 12-year-old Tash tries to figure out what life will be like following her parents' divorce. In this book, which takes place at a trailer park up north, Tash first meets Luke, Jon and Polly.

Judy lives in Toronto, Canada, with a dog, a cat, and two hamsters, plus her husband and two children, ages 10 and 13. She studied English Literature at the University of Toronto. She always wanted to be a writer. She wrote her first book in fourth grade - it was about a boy called Japan, who lived in Japan. In addition to writing books, Judy is a freelance business writer.

For More Information

Judy will be awarding a $50 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. Other tour dates and destinations can be found here: http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2012/07/virtual-book-review-tour-were-done-by.html.

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  1. Bullying is very much in the news. It is a sad subject.

  2. Good to see a new take on such an important subject.


  3. Many thanks for the review, and your kind words!

  4. I love the concept behind this story. It is something that really needs to be told. I hope a lot of young people read this story.

  5. Bullying was never a problem for me growing up - thank goodness.


  6. Nothing is better than realistic and educational read. Maybe instead of reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid, YAs should read this. It would strike them too. Thanks for the review.


  7. What a unique perspective to take on the topic of bullying! Thanks for posting this review. Carin
    mawmom at gmail dot com