Brutal -- Michael Harmon
Teen literature certainly has grown up since Paul Zindel's The Pigman, as Michael Harmon's 2009 novel, Brutal, proves in this vivisection of bullying and intolerance in today's high schools. Harmon's lead is Poe Holly, a displaced and self-alienated punk rock singer whose outspoken attitude against the barbie doll status quo is tested when her outcast neighbor becomes the victim of several beatings at the hands of untouchable football star, Colby Morris. The novel is as much an analysis of the social strata that the school system fosters as it is a portrait of the disenfranchised individuals that the system tramples underfoot. Here, Brutal succeeds in speaking to both the students caught up in the scheme and the adults who have been shaped by it.