Saturday, 1 June 2013
Review: You Don't Know Me by Sophia Bennett
I have never read a book by Sophia Bennett before, and although I do own The Look, it is still waiting to be read. After my recent discovery and love of reading a band themed book, and loving the synopsis of You Don't Know Me, I had to request it, and I am so glad I did. You Don't Know Me is another book that managed to grab my attention immediately and I found it extremely difficult to put it down, so much so that I read while cooking, and the food turned out a bit more well done than usual.
You Don't Know Me follows four girls, Rose, Jodie, Nell and Sasha, best friends in school and also a small band together that messes around and has fun, until the day that Sasha's phone is stolen and one of the girls fun videos is put online on Interface as an entry to Killer Act, the biggest online music competition in the country. The girls, now known as Manic Pixie Dream Girls, soon find themselves in high demand from school friends but all too soon their fame is brought to a sudden halt when they are forced to drop on of the girls from the band and the remaining girls are forced to deal with the backlash.
When I began reading You Don't Know Me I had an idea in my head about who would do the dropping and who would be left behind, and I was shocked to see I was wrong and had guessed the wrong person. As the story unfolds you get to see how it was a huge misunderstanding on both sides. The dropped person believing her friend agreed with everyone else, and the dropper thinking it was better to drop this girl due to ability and desire alone. When it is all revealed in a video montage before the band perform in the finals it is revealed how it was all twisted and portrayed to be the bands fault it truly hit me how things can be purposefully shown in the wrong light. I felt sorry for the band for being painted as the bad people but part of me also wanted to know why they didn't stop and make others aware of what was going on and fight for the member back.
What follows afterwards is just awful, not only to the remaining band members but also the the girl left out who finds fame herself. The girls in the band, especially the person who was made to look responsible for the dropping, are bullied on interface, hateful messages are left, threatening text message are sent, and the people who this girl thought she could rely on turn their backs on her for a short while. She is left alone, drowning in a sea of hate and trying to keep herself above water, to just survive one more day. The feelings portrayed by this girl made me feel so lost for her, and having to dread going back into school is such an awful feeling.
Things aren't all doom and gloom, we have Elliot Harrison, who has a crush on Sasha, and we eventually find out he is responsible for posting the initial video online, but he also comes in handy throughout the book and helps the girls solve a bullying issue and works wonders in the finally chapters to ensure the girls get some positive publicity.
Dan Matthews is a guitar player in the band, Call of Duty who also found fame in Killer Act. He is genuinely a nice person and goes above and beyond to fix a mistake he made and to help Sasha and make her feel better. There is an eventual 'happy ending' for these girls, but I am not going to spoil it by giving away too many details, it made me happy to see how far they have come and how things worked out for everyone involved.
I loved You Don't Know Me for many reasons, the characters are believable and likeable, it's easy to relate to the characters and the problems they go through, but it also brings a powerful message with it. Bullying takes place everywhere, it doesn't discriminate and it can take on many forms. With the help of her friends Sasha is able to stand up for herself and confront her bully, and together they overcome the cyber bullying. No matter who you are or what your circumstances no one has the right to put you down and make you feel less than what you are worth. Don't be afraid to speak out and let others know, report it at childline or thinkuknow, tell a parent or teacher, don't suffer in silence.
I have a lot of respect for Sophia Bennett for openly writing about this major issue and dealing with it in a respectful, tasteful but truthful way. She is not afraid to show the true face of bullying and I will not hesitate to pick up any more of her work.