Finished October 31
Drowning Anna by Sue Mayfield
This teen novel tells the story of Anna from two directions. One is the view of her friend Melanie, looking back at the events since Anna came to her high school more than two years ago. The other is Anna's own words through her diary entries, as read and reacted to by her parents when they sit by her in the hospital as she fights for her life.
Anna's family moved to this unnamed Yorkshire town from London in Year Nine, and is immediately befriended by Hayley Parkin, an attractive and popular girl in the school. Anna herself is smart, good at sports and friendly and she becomes friends with Hayley quickly. But when Hayley inexplicably dumps Anna and begins to use her as a target in a systemic campaign of subtle bullying, Anna can't understand what is happening.
She grows closer to Melanie, but even Melanie is under the influence of Hayley and it isn't until Anna's reaction grows desperate that those around her can see the true nature of Hayley's cruel actions.
This is the second book I've read recently that has high school female bullying as a theme, and both feature attractive, popular girls as the instigators of the bullying, girls that continue their behaviour over many months, unable to move on from their resentment of their target. This book shows the way that bully's use their reputation and position to hide their behaviour from the adults around them and get their peers to join in with their behaviour.
This book is intense and eye-opening, and will open the door to discussions around this very real issue in our society.