Bingo Square: Getaway, replacing Edibles
Melinda has started her freshman year of high school as an outcast. Over the summer, she called the police on a party, which resulted in some people being arrested. Even her oldest friends are furious at her. Her parents seem mostly irritated by her, especially towards her lack of effort at school, but she finds some solace in her art class. There the teacher allows them to experiment and is encouraging of Melinda’s work. New girl Heather, desperate to fit in, initially offers friendship but then pushes Melinda aside for her own social standing. But Melinda didn’t call the police that night to shut down the party, she did so because she had been attacked and raped by an older student. Since then, she has withdrawn and now barely speaks. And just when she feels she might be coming back to herself, she has another encounter with her attacker. This time, she won’t stay silent.
This book has been on my list to read for many years, and I’m not sure why I didn’t get around to it til now. It obviously has moments that are hard to read, and some of its language use is very dated, especially regarding derogatory terms, but it doesn’t pull its punches when it comes to how Melinda feels about what happened, or how cruel others can be. I was also irritated by her parents, who seem barely present or interested in their child, or why she has suddenly changed. They only care about her grades and appearance. Talk to your kid!
It feels timely still, but in an infuriating way. Speak up, but will you be listened to? Will you be believed? I’m writing this not long after the Russell Brand allegations in the UK, and have seen once again how quick people are to come to someone’s defence, to drag the women who are speaking up through the mud and tabloids. A 15 year old girl has just been murdered outside her school, apparently because she didn’t want to date a boy anymore. Speaking up comes with such a vast cost. So I understand why Melinda goes silent. But I wonder, if there hadn’t been witnesses to the second attack, would it have gone a different way for her? Would she have been left alone still? This book came out in 1999, and I don’t think we’ve come very far in that time.