Source: ARC from author
Buy the Book (Book Depository) • Buy the Book (Amazon) •Gabrielle Bridges has always found it easy to fit in at school but at the beginning of Year 8 her life changes dramatically. First, the boy she's been crushing on for ages is mean to her, then she's kicked out of her friendship group. To top it off her BFF moves away to Sydney. Just when Gabby thinks things couldn't get any worse, Annakey Lucas, the nastiest bully in her year, decides to turn the whole school against her.How will Gabby survive Yr 8 when her entire life is falling to pieces?
Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Another note: the following review will most likely contain copious ranting, sarcasm, exasperated GIFs, and other scathing diatribes against this book. You have been warned.
I just… am so, so incredibly disappointed right now. I had such high hopes for Secrets of a Social Outcast, but it did not work out for me. At all. By the middle of the book I was forcing myself to stick it out through the end in hopes that it might improve. No such luck – the ending seemed at best predictable and at worst contrived.
Although there were quite a few things that irked me about Secrets of a Social Outcast, I think it really boils down to one major thing: the MC and I never quite clicked. Secrets is written in diary format by Gabrielle Bridges (aka Gabby and/or Wednesday Addams, depending on one’s relationship with her). From the beginning, her voice grated on my nerves. Gabby is whiny, naive, and almost startlingly self-centred. On the first page itself she endears herself to her lovely readers with this wonderful passage on her supposedly non-brain dead state and how she’s being deprived of – AND I QUOTE – the “basic necessities of life”. (Woe is me.)
I wish I could keep this diary on my laptop like a normal person but my parents check my computer all the time in case I get stalked by a paedophile (or more likely to find out if I’m looking at stuff I’m not supposed to). Seriously! Do they really think I’m going to hook up with a total stranger I meet online? I’m not completely brain dead but they obviously don’t agree because I have no privacy whatsoever. I’m not even allowed to have Facebook until I’m 14 and that’s almost a year away. I don’t know how I’m going to survive till then. All my friends and even my 10 year old cousin are on there. It’s so embarrassing being the odd one out. It’s totally my parents’ fault for depriving me of the basic necessities of life. If I end up being a social outcast it will all be their fault.
Well, I’m sorry your feelings are hurt, princess. Indeed, HOW are you going to SURVIVE without the staple of life that is Facebook? Don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll all come to your funeral once you die of technology deprivation.
Continuing on with the list of Gabby’s crimes: she’s so hypocritical, it’s almost laughable. Case in point: when Annakey Lucas, a girl at her school who Gabby identifies as “Skanky Annakey”, starts making fun of her behind her back, she has the gall to be offended and even complains to her dear diary about how she doesn’t know what she’s done to deserve this. On page 17:
I can’t believe she’s doing this. I’ve barely even spoken to her and I can’t think of anything I’ve done to make her hate me.
WELL, THEN TRY THINKING HARDER.
Thank goodness, in the second half of the book Gabby becomes slightly more bearable. Unfortunately, the reason for this is that suddenly the whole school starts hating her and she has no friends whatsoever. So why exactly does it take severe bullying for Gabby to start maturing? (Now, isn’t that the million-dollar question.) The thing that made me really sad, however, was that I just could not relate to Gabby at all. Even when reached her lowest point and began self-harming, and no matter how many times she announced that her “life was ending” (and believe me, there were quite a few times), I just couldn’t feel the desolation. There was always a part of my mind wondering why she had to be so melodramatic. On page 35, she complains about her parents:
My whole life is falling to pieces and they think I’m sulking like a spoiled brat!
And I’m just sitting here going… I dunno, sweetheart, you seem pretty bratty to me.
Then, in the span of a week, Gabby goes from cutting herself to totally defiant and set on the decision that no bully is going to affect her own self-perception. And okay, I can understand how an experience like that might want you to turn yourself around, but a week? How can she do a complete 180 that quickly?
Not to mention – what a coincidence that all the bullies are caught in the act, in the same week. (I can’t be the only one who sees something very, very wrong there.)
Fast-forward to when Gabby’s tentatively building up her social status once more. You’d think that she might have learned something from the whole bullying episode and mellowed out a little bit, right?
No such luck. She calls good ol’ Skanky Annakey a “worthless slut” TO HER FACE, quoting Annakey’s own father – which, I gotta say, is a pretty low blow. Later she goes onto announce that Annakey deserved it and she wouldn’t have done anything different given the chance. So who exactly is the bully here…?
Some more choice gems, from page 55:
Even Annakey didn’t say anything to me or Brooke today. She was much quieter than she usually is, probably because she’s scared of getting into trouble again. I wish she’d just do something and be expelled once and for all. We all know it’s going to happen eventually and that she’ll end up a complete no-hoper just like her parents.
And from pages 65-66, Gabby’s reaction to Annakey’s genuine apology for the bullying:
I know the only reason she apologised is because everyone hates her. She’s seen me hanging out with Lochie [popular boy] and some of the cool kids so she thinks if she becomes friends with me then that will be a way for her to get back in with her old friends … I got really angry and said, “I know it’s only because you have no friends and you’re just trying to use me. You can take your apology and shove it. There’s nothing you can say to make up for what you did to me and I’m glad you’re finally getting what you deserve.”
Anyway. I think you get the general gist: girl is mean, ignorant, and immature. Girl gets bullied. Girl is now mean, ignorant, slightly more mature, and about a hundred times preachier. My eyes are hurting from the amount of times I rolled them reading this book. Perhaps if so much of Secrets wasn’t spent in Gabby’s head I might have found it slightly more tolerable, but that isn’t the case. Had it not been for my policy of not DNFing ARCs, I most certainly wouldn’t have struggled through it all.
Take my advice: skip over this one. You’ll thank yourself for it.