Sarah's Stars

James Heneghan. Payback
Groundwood Books $18.95  ISBN 978-0-88899-701-2  184 pg.
Reviewed by Melissa, Age 15

Benny stands. He looks down at his muddy hands and clothing, and his eyes start to tear up.

Look! He’s crying!” Rebar yells.

The boys jeer.

Faggot!” Rebar shouts.

Everyone laughs. When they see there’s to be no fight they walk away.

 It’s difficult to live with the death of a parent, let alone dealing with it in a different country that is not your own. Charley Callaghan is in the eighth grade attending school in Vancouver…a far cry from his Irish homeland. He is having enough trouble trying to avoid being bullied. This is hard to elude until another new boy comes to school. The boy was quiet and had the sweetest smile Charley had ever seen… and yet, the bullies didn’t seem to think it was so sweet. No one would help him and Charley certainly wasn’t going to stick his neck out either! It's hard enough trying to keep oneself in check, let alone help someone else. But what happens when no one speaks out, and the discrimination goes too far?

Payback is a heart wrenching and truly numbing read. It pulls the reader in just from the cover picture. It is a story that I won’t forget any time soon. The characters are wonderful and I adored every last one of them. The Irish accents are very refreshing as well! The story had twists that one would not expect to happen, and it all takes place in an unforeseen sequence. I found this book amazingly easy to relate to. It helps me remember that bullying and excluding others can have terrible consequences.

I recommend this book for readers twelve years and older. A must read for all teenagers. It definitely leaves a strong message with the reader.

I give Payback five scary-truth stars.


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