Patty Blount definitely did her research - she knew exactly how to bring the situation and all of the characters to life. I was a bit hesitant to accept this book for review. Just from the summary, I felt that I had no business reading a book from a bully's point-of-view. I was determined to read it and not like it, and not like Dan.
I was so wrong.
Once I found out how old Kenny was when he clicked "send", what his sentence was, what happened to him in juvie, what happened when he got out of juvie and so on, my heart really ached for the boy. Yes, he was a bully. But he was the type of bully where a lot of people, including his parents, probably saw him as just 'having a little fun with the boys'. Being a boy at 12/13 nowadays is really tough. Some boys stay boys while others hit puberty and are already shaving. And until that growth spurt, a lot of parents still see their pre-teen boys as their little babies and treat them as their typical little boys that should be wearing 'under-roos' and playing sports, rather than listen to them and find out what it is that they are really interested in.
This book also hit pretty close to home. The setting takes place on Long Island, where I live, and this was the first time that I was reading something that is 5 minutes from where I live. I have driven down these roads and towns on a weekly basis. I have passed by these schools and stores. It was really eerie to read and I had to remind myself, over and over again, that this was not a true story.
SEND has opened my eyes even further when it comes to bullying. It is a reminder on how we should be listening to our kids. They are our children - we live with them, take care of them - it baffles my mind on how some parents really don't see when their child is suffering, depressed or being bullied. I know that some kids hide their feelings. But there are so many clues to pick up on. This was truly an eye-opener for me, even though my boys are still very young, all of this can happen at any age. I get all teary eye and my heart aches just thinking about what all the characters, Kenny, Dan, Brandon, Julie and Liam, went through. No child, or family, should have to go through so much heartache.
I highly recommend this book, for parents, teachers, schools and children who are 8 years old and up. Yes, the book is geared for 12 and up, and there is some swearing and it gets a bit graphic. But I am quite sure that the 8 to 12 crowd are smarter than we give them credit for. And in this day and age, with computers and so on, it is never too safe to start teaching our kids from what's right and wrong.