I'm delighted to be part of the "It Only Takes One Click" tour for Patty Blount's novel Send. Today, I have my review of Send, an interview with Patty Blount, and a giveaway of her book.
by Patty Blount
Publication: August 1, 2012
Author: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Buy it: Amazon | Kindle | B&N | Book Depository
To keep his secrets, all he has to do is listen to the voice in his head and just walk away...
On his first day at his new high school, Dan stops a bully from beating up a kid half his size. He didn't want to get involved. All he wants out of his senior year is to fly under the radar. But Dan knows what it's like to be terrorized by a bully-he used to be one. Now the whole school thinks he's some kind of hero, except Julie Murphy, the prettiest girl on campus. She looks at him like she knows he has a secret. Like she knows his name isn't really Daniel.
Dan is someone that we can all relate to. At one point or another, we do something that we end up regretting, though that something doesn't land us all in juvie. Since learning that the boy that he cyber-bullied killed himself, Dan has been regretting his actions and trying to atone for them. All he wants to do is fade into anonymity now that he has a new name to hide behind; however, he can't stand by and do nothing when he sees someone being bullied after what he's done. And his actions
I feel that there were aspects of the novel that could have been better developed. Dan's speech class seems to play an important role in his life. It is where he makes his first friends, and his group's speech topic plays a role getting Dan and Julie to interact with each other. However, the scenes with Julie are the ones that get the most attention. While I appreciated watching the two struggle to understand their relationship, I also wanted to see Dan interact more with other people. It is stated that he makes two friends in the class, but I never got to know them as people. Two other characters that I wish received more attention are Jeff and Brandon. Dan firmly believes Jeff to be the bully and Brandon to be the victim that needs saving, but their situation is so much more complicated than that. There's a reason why everyone sides with Jeff against Brandon, and I'm still not fully convinced that it's only because of what Brandon said.
What impressed me the most is the complexity and realness of Dan's character. While I don't find the actions of the thirteen-year-old him amusing, I can empathize with the eighteen-year-old Dan who struggles to forgive himself. I especially appreciate the presence of thirteen-year-old Kenny (his old nickname) that haunts him, seemingly a demon who exists taunt Dan about his wickedness to the end of his days. In reality, Kenny is just as complicated as Dan and gives insight into Dan's character. In fact, Kenny ended up being my favorite character with Dan himself coming in a close second.
I love how the story comes in full circle. Dan got himself in this mess from clicking send, and he moves on by clicking send. Typically, we see the stories of the victims. Rarely does the bully--or former bully--receive much attention in YA lit. While I never could have imagined myself relating to someone with Dan's history, here I was eager to tell Dan that he can't keep on blaming himself, that he has to let himself be happy. Send is a book that I recommend to tweens, older teens, and adults alike.
Rating: A book to remember and keep. A book that teens and adults alike should give a try.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you became an author.
I'm just a girl who loves words. I've been writing all my life -- poetry, short stories, you name it. I didn't get serious about my writing until I grew up, had a couple of kids, and went, "Wow. I'm already in my forties and haven't done the things I wanted to do." One of those things was write books. So I tried and kept giving up. It wasn't until my son dared me to write a novel that I actually finished one.
It's really cool how you wrote a novel on a dare from your son! In your FAQ's, you mentioned that Send was ripped from the headlines. What do you mean by this?
Bullying has always been a social problem but the explosive growth in internet technology takes a situation that would have been confined to a small physical space like a playground or school and taken it world-wide virtually overnight. When I was a kid, if a teen killed herself in California, I would not have heard about it in New York. Today, I do hear such news. The news was where I began my research for Send. I learned about boys on the national sex offense list for 'sexting' naked pictures of their girlfriends from the news. I learned about teens committing suicide because they were bullied from the news. And on the news, I learned that not enough laws exist to address these crimes so sometimes, prosecutors try to apply old laws, like distributing child pornography.The consequences of these old laws rarely seem to fit and the result is a lot of lives get ruined for what are often innocent mistakes. All of these headlines ended up in Send.
You did a wonderful job incorporating these headlines into Send. What are the highlights of what you learned during your research on social media?
First, it's not a toy. The internet, cell phones, social networks -- sure, they're fun, but they are not video games that, when turned off, STOP. They are permanent, far reaching methods of communication that make it very easy for people to suddenly develop big mouths because they feel safe and anonymous behind their computer screens. Would you ever tell a depressed teen "Do it! Hang yourself!" to his face!?! I sincerely hope not. Yet, online, that happens often because people tell themselves it's not serious.
That's a good point. Typically, literature likes to explore the perspective of those victimized. Why did you decide to tell the story from the bully's point of view?
After my own son was both the victim of bullies and later accused of bullying another child, I wondered just how many bullies in the stories I'd read in which the victim took his own life were crippled with guilt. I wondered how many of them truly intended to hurt someone, or were really just not thinking about the long-term, permanent consequences of an action (clicking SEND) that can reach the entire word in a day or two? I thought about the teens whose lives were ruined after a judge put them on the sex offense list for forwarding naked pictures of their girlfriends. They had no idea they were doing anything wrong and they did not intend to hurt anyone, let alone compel people to suicide. I couldn't get that thought out of my mind. How would a kid deal with that kind of guilt? Could he ever grow to forgive himself?
We really can't know the immensity of the consequences of our actions until after it's done. These questions you raised are at the center of Daniel's story. How has Daniel grown as a character since you first came up with him?
Dan's like another son to me now. But he sure didn't start out that way. In fact, I pretty much hated his guts when I first started this project. I didn't want to like a bully. I didn't want to feel sorry for him. I wanted him to pay. In a real sense, Dan had to earn MY forgiveness first, for me to be able to write this story without killing him outright. And he did. He takes things to extremes.... he feels things very deeply but isn't sure how to manage those feelings. He always thinks he's right and when he finds out he's not, he goes right back to zero, to feeling undeserving of anyone's mercy. But by the end of the story, he cuts himself a break and that's because the stakes are suddenly extreme, which lets him put everything in perspective... his therapist, his parents and grandfather, Julie, even Kenny -- have been trying to do this all along. But Dan had to do it for himself and once he did, he realized he did not deserve death.
Oh, Kenny. I really grew to love that guy. Many elements play a role in Daniel's growth. In writing this story, what was the most important element to you?
There are two... forgiveness, certainly. But not just shrugging off the incident that requires forgiveness, trying to downplay it as a mistake. So the second is taking responsibility for that incident to make sure forgiveness is deserved.
If you were to insert yourself into the story, what role would you like to play?
A bit of me was in Dan's un-named Mom... especially the chocolate scene.
That was a really sweet scene. I loved it! What are you working on right now?
I just finished a novel called TMI, which is Too Much Information. It's about two girls whose friendship is ruined over a guy they 'meet' online and later discover does not exist. I'm also working on a new paranormal series about a teen who's trying to keep his psychic abilities a secret from his Mom, ever since a fire killed his little brother and Dad. That's because his visions are telling him his Mom lied about the fire.
That's exciting news. I cannot wait to read your latest projects. Thanks for interviewing with me here at Imaginary Reads!
Technical writer by day, fiction writer by night, Patty mines her day job for ideas to use in her novels. Her debut YA "Send" was born after a manager suggested she research social networks. Patty adores chocolate, her boys, and books, though not necessarily in that order.
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