Fifteen-year-old Polarity Weeks just wants to live a normal life, but with a mother diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, that’s rarely easy. Her life gets exponentially more disastrous when her sixth-period history classmates start ogling a nude picture of her on the Internet. Polarity would never have struck such a shameless pose, but the photo is definitely of her, and she’s at a complete loss to explain its existence.
Child Protective Services yanks her from her home, suspecting her parents. The kids at school mock her, assuming she took it herself. And Ethan, the boy she was really starting to like, backpedals and joins the taunting chorus. Surrounded by disbelief and derision on all sides, Polarity desperately seeks the truth among her friends. Only then does she learn that everyone has dark secrets, and no one’s life is anywhere near normal.
Unfortunately, I realized too late that this novel was like a manual for what teens should do if anyone was being bullied for whatever reason. The only difference between this and a guide to stop bullying is that this book is being told in first person.
At the beginning of this novel, I was so stoked to read about Polarity’s story and how she overcomes this sort of bullying. However, the story seems to just give you a slightly longer version of the book’s summary and then, for the rest of the novel, drags out the methods used to uncover how that picture of Polarity came into being. I expected Polarity to forge through a series of experiences throughout the book that would mold her into a mature, level-headed teen. Instead, I had to read about trivial activities that don’t really add value to the story. I couldn’t care less about the time Polarity spends with her grandmother and the things they do together (shopping, making clothes, etc.). I also was frustrated with the way in which the teens interacted with one another. It sounded too much like an educational booklet about why you shouldn’t bully your peers because they’re different.
On the bright side, Polarity in Motion focused on some serious social issues. I admired the fact that the author tried to touch on nearly every social issue affecting young adults and the way in which they (teens and adults) should address them. I love the way the author exposed the justice system and how easily Polarity’s case could be forgotten in favor of more grievous cases. If you want a quick read on racism, bullying, borderline personality disorder, dysfunctional families, and the injustice justice system in America, then this novel is perfect for you.
About the Author
The heartbeat of Brenda Vicars’ fiction emanates from the courage and resiliency of her students. Her career in Texas public education includes teaching, serving as a principal, and directing student support services programs. For three years she also taught college English to prison inmates, and outside of her job she mentors children of incarcerated parents. She entered education because she felt called to teach, but she found that it was students who taught her the biggest lesson: the playing field is not even for all kids. Through her work she became increasingly compelled to bring their unheard voices to the page.
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