I’m an impatient person. I always skip the overture scenes in musicals, I sometimes read instruction manuals, and I don’t like long introductions with page numbers like “xiii.” But… as I’ve started thinking of myself as a “writer,” I’ve developed a new habit:
Before I read a book, I read the author’s note. It’s something I’ve started to look forward to as I’ve worked on my own writing. I want to know what the author has to say about the book baby they’ve spent months (even years) birthing. I was not prepared for the “feels” I stumbled upon as I flipped to the back of a book by an author I “met” on Twitter. Those feels made me feel welcome. They made me feel empowered. They made me one hundred percent sure that this was going to be a story I’d remember.
With every copy of her book, Holly Dobbie tells you (yeah, YOU) a remarkable Truth:
You are loved, and you are valuable.
The world is a better place with you in it.
FIFTEEN POINT NINE is about strength in all of its messy and unconventional forms. Aggie’s life stinks. Literally. She’s grown used to the piles of empty wine boxes, soggy catalogues, and bags of actual trash that consumer her and Jane (her mother)’s home. Their hot water doesn’t work, and if it did, the money Jane should have spent on soap and other “normal people necessities” would end up at the bottom of a bottle. As per usual.
At school, Aggie is “Skunk Junk, Beans, Fartwad,” and other names she’d rather forget. Day, after day, Aggie (and a few select, unfortunate souls) are abused physically and emotionally buy bullies with ZERO remorse. As I read the filthy and hate-fueled remarks, I caught myself thinking:
“Oh, come on, no one is that mean.”
Except when they are. The pain Aggie and her friends experienced happens. It’s as simple as that. One of the hardest pills for our politically-correct-love-is-love-inclusivity-above-all world to swallow is the fact that we have not yet evolved past this kind of ignorant apathy (despite the efforts of some really amazing and kindhearted people).
Reason #43 why I love this book: It was written by a former teacher . It’s easy to blame the teachers and hall monitors and principals when bullying is exposed. While, yes, they are often closest to the situation, they have 100+ little bodies to care for and simply can’t be everywhere at once. Teachers and counselors are neither villainized nor victimized in FIFTEEN POINT NINE. They’re just people doing their best to love the kids in front of them. Aggie’s reluctance to tell the adults around her about what the bullies say and do to her rings true to how these things usually happen. Kids are intimidated and scared and believe the lie that they. are. alone.
FIFTEEN POINT NINE is bold. It’s brilliant. It’s relevant.
If you enjoyed Looking for Alaska, All the Bright Places, or Okay for Now, Dobbie’s words will feel like sitting down with a friend you’ve known for years and a friend you just met but somehow already love,
The topics in this book are HARD, but we have got to talk about them. Bullying, self-harm, and suicide are discussed, and at times, described (self-harm/cutting).
Recommended Age: 12+ due to descriptions of the topics mentioned above.
Questions to Discuss with Your Readers:
***School is just plain HARD for some of us – Do you feel like you can usually tell when a classmate is having a rough day/week?
***What are some ways you could show those classmates they are loved and valued?
***Who are the people “in your corner” – the people you know will always help you?
***Name one thing (or more!) that makes you awesome 🙂