Brutal
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Brutal

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3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  633 ratings  ·  136 reviews
With her martyr-doctor mother gone to save lives in some South American country, Poe Holly suddenly finds herself on the suburban doorstep of the father she never knew, who also happens to be a counselor at her new high school. She misses Los Angeles. She misses the guys in her punk band. Weirdly, she even misses the shouting matches she used to have with her mom.

But Poe m...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published March 8th 2011 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2009)
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Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for TeensReadToo.com

When sixteen-year-old Poe Holly's doctor mother decides to take her practice to the jungles of South America for a year, Poe finds herself living with the father she has never really known. She was a baby the last time her parents were in the same room together, and now she's moving into his house.

Since her mother is usually busy 24/7, Poe is used to living on her own. It's a welcome relief to find out her father is willing to allo...more
Raina
Only got 13 pages into this. Stopped shortly after the appearance of the overly clownish hick (complete with detailed announcements of his defecation plans). I found the protagonist overly-aware of her otherness (she describes herself as a "counterculture being") and thus, not believable. The snark was too contrived. I was thinking it might be a fun remix of Beige by Cecil Castelucci, but just read that instead.
Courtney
Ok, the cover of the paperback edition has a blurb on the cover that makes it sound like the book is simply a case of bully vs. protagonist. Thing is, it's not really about the bully at all. Sure Colby's a complete jerk and definitely the catalyst for action, but the book is really about about fighting the establishment that allows bullying to take place. You see, Poe Holly has just moved to a small, upscale winery town on the California coast. She's been living in LA most of her life, singing i...more
Stephanie
I have to say, I really, really enjoyed reading this novel probably because it exceeded my expectations.

I highly enjoyed the witty humor and the very interesting point of view, Poe.

The characters, Poe, Theo and Velveeta are highly personified and are developed nicely. I enjoyed Poe immensely because she's just so funny. I admire her courage to go against the school and its authorities to point out their errors. And even though she herself is the definition of the things she wants to get rid of,...more
Suzanne
Hmm, with Brutal, I couldn't decide between two or three stars. The topic of bullying and a main character who tries to do something to reform the educational system that not only doesn't prevent it but may actually encourage it are worthwhile. But the execution is didactic in many spots, and Harmon seems to sacrifice narrative, character, and writing style to message.

Nonconformist Poe Holly's doctor-mother has shipped her off to a father she doesn't know so that she can go play humanitarian in...more
Alex

Poe feels spurned when her mother sets her on a plane to go live with the dad she's never met. Poe is sarcastic and witty, cutting and strong. She sees the wrongness in the school- that the school preaches equality, but that's never true. Teachers and adults turn a blind eye on the bullying, the fact that the athletes etc. have more rights and privileges than the other students. Poe sees all that- and she strives to change it. She fights, verbally, for a lot of different things. She fights just...more
Yan
I found this book funny, chuckle worthy, but in the ha-ha ironic type of way. Why? Because Poe really does represent everything she hates and fights against. Normally I would not dwell on this but the book goes into great lengths to talk and re-talk about this topic. We are talking cliques.

Poe mentions about the injustice in cliques and how certain groups receives special favors. She tries all she can to go against it and speak up to the “Man” about it. But what I found truly ironic was that, s...more
Kristy
soo, i really enjoyed this one. Our main character Poe, was a character!! She was a little rebel. She makes me want to be more spunky.

In this book we are following Poe. Your run of the mill teenager, who is quite the rebel. She quickly becomes a school outcast, voicing her opinions and cutting her hair into a mohawk, befriending a social leper and defending the school's kick-around kid. Her quest for school equality and defense for the weak and picked on becomes quite the journey. How far will...more
Kfinney
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Arreona
The book Brutal by Michael Harmon started off with the sneaky character Poe holly. Poe is a young girl who lives with her mother who works as a docter in South America, which ends up causing Poe to have to move in with her dad who she has never met because he left before she was born.

After sixteen long years Poe is forced to move to live with her dad who is like a total stranger to her because he left but her mom has to travel to south America for her doctors buisiness. Poe and her father were...more
April Suter
Are you almost a non-conformist? If so this is a must read!! I love how the author has his characters question the methods and rules of education. Poe Holly moves in with her dad when her mother doctor goes for a year overseas. Poe then has to learn how to live with a new parent (who is a counselor) and survive a new school. Poe makes friends, questions each and every event in the school and must face a system that is protecting a football star bully.

I liked the dedication: This novel was writte...more
Christine


The beginning was brutal to get through, but I enjoyed the ending.
Cheyenne
Very Provocative And Good Stinging Wit

Brutal
By Michael Harmon
Pub. Date: March 2009
4 out of 5 stars
PG-13 - Vulgar Profanity, Violence, and Sexual Humor
Recommended

Poe has both an absent mother and a once long gone father pushing equality and “be-like-everyone-else” indoctrination upon her. Everywhere she turns, school, home, choir, and politics, are full of candy-coated creativity and uniqueness crushers… unless you are one of the rich, beautiful, atheletic elite. Poe is tired of the “equality” sy...more
Diane Ferbrache
Poe's mother is out of the country saving the world again, but this time Poe gets sent to live with the father she has never even met. He lives in a small town out in the middle of wine country, a far cry from her home in LA and her goth looks and LA attitude don't really fit in. When she enrolls in the local high school, she becomes fast friends with another outcast known as Velveeta. Poe tries to navigate the complicated social strata of Benders Hollow, but soon discovers that behind the rah-r...more
Sarah
This book is brutal. Tough issues, tough kids, tough town, and it's small-town America. Poe Holly is shipped to her father's because her mom is heading to South America to save lives. Poe's never seen her dad, and let's just say that she is a little bitter. She's the typical teenage angst girl--wears black, strange hairstyles, tests the rules, and very outspoken. Sure, her mom has money and Poe has a great voice, but Poe isn't happy. She's crying out for attention from her mother.

Poe's next-door...more
Saffy
This is a story about a girl who's very opinionated and angsty, who goes out of her way to "improve" everything around her and "telling the truth".

I'll be blunt. In the beginning I didn't like Poe at all. I thought she represented everything she was against, and in fact she was.

However, later in the book, I came to realize that Michael Harmon was quite aware of that, and intentionally created Poe to be that way. He truly created a complex hypocritical character, and pointed out her flaws quite...more
Linda
When her surgeon-mother leaves LA and goes to South America on a charity project, 16 yr. old Poe Holly goes to live with her father in the small town of Bender. Poe has never met her father who also happens to be the school counselor at her new high school. Poe doesn't know why her parents divorced. She is a rebellious teen who doesnt' get along with her mother and blames her father for never being there for her. Poe meets two new friends...Theo, the son of the mayor and "Velveeta", a troubled t...more
Terry
There are some things to really like about this book. Poe Holly is that character who loves the Sex Pistols and shaves her head for fun, and lots of punk-ish kids will like her take-no-prisoners attitude. The surveillance technology that took up much of Little Brother plays a role here as well. The map of bullying played out in the book is - mostly - realistic, escalating from petty to dangerous. If you're looking for a book about the accumulation of small wrongs that lead to evil, this might be...more
Cristy
Although less then strong on character development, still an entertaining and in-depth read, addressing the issue of individualism and bullying in High School. Double standards are huge in school; especially in the last four years... we’ve all either experienced it personally or witnessed it at some point during our academic career. BRUTAL focuses greatly on the adult’s role in the harassment of a student by adding to the problem in refusing to protect the weak in the name of “tolerance”, and/or...more
Victoria
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rebecca
Brutal is a brutal story. Brutal starts off almost lightly, with a little bit of seriousness. There was just something about Brutal that drew me into the story and made me love it. I didn’t really know much about Brutal when I started reading it and thought it would have been a light, contemporary story. It wasn’t though. Brutal was quite a heavy story in the end and I loved every part of it.
I liked Brutal, it was realistic even if Poe wasn’t and I think that was the point. Poe is supposed to be...more
Kat
After recently reading Gingerbread by Rachel Cohn, I'd say that "Brutal"'s Poe Holly is the po' man's Cyd Charisse. Poe's a self-proclaimed punk rock rebel with combat boots and a mohawk and a spitfire personality, but she often comes off as judgmental and overly-aggressive and inconsiderate. But not nearly as witty or memorable as Cyd.

Poe digs her life in LA, pissing off her prissy doctor mom and doing vocals for a punk band and sticking it to the man and such. But when Poe's mother takes off...more
Karissa
First off I love this character name! Props to her parents yo. Poe Holly. Sounds like the name of a rock star which is lucky since that's what she wants to be.

Secondly, this was an alright book. Nothing groundbreaking. It had it's moments. But the main character was a little obnoxious.

Poe Holly is sent to live with her father when her mother decides to go save lives in South America. Poe has never really met or spoken with her father before this so they both have to learn to make some adjustme...more
cecilia
Brutal came at a great time in my reading life - Poe was like the literary Veronica Mars minus the mystery, but with that same sort of sass. I always had a soft spot for the rebels with a cause, and high school is always full of surprises and drama that somehow never gets too old. Occasionally Poe goes a little overboard in her rampage, pushing away her well-meaning but spineless father, the cute rebel boy, the spoiled but nice-on-the-inside cheerleader, and everyone else on the planet. No one t...more
Danielle
The main character is what I hoped Bella from Twilight would be. Poe (named after Edgar Allen), abandoned by her mother, has just moved from big town LA to a small town to live with a father she has never known. So there are obviously lots of parallels between Poe and Bella. But Poe is a rebel and an outsider in a conformist school. She confronts her father for never being in her life. She stands up to her mother who has abandoned her. She fights for her rights and the rights of others in a scho...more
Kathryn
Outstanding story line!!
6/10/13
The characters and plot in Brutal by Micheal Harmon was a very relatable novel. The main character Poe Holly had just entered highschool in her fathers town in California after her doctor mother leaves for South America. Shes new to this school, but old to the rules. Her father is the school guidance counsler (which she hates for many obvious reasons). Poe meets many friends that effect the further relationships she makes with her peers. Her new neighbor Velvetta...more
Shannon
I've been on a young adult reading binge lately and I've picked some winners and losers along the way. I would consider Brutal one of the better picks. At first I thought it was going to be very similar to an earlier book I read titled Secrets Of My Suburban Life as the main characters were coming off very similar but that ended soon after the first chapter and I actually liked the character of Poe. There were points in the book where she began to question herself and her motives I always felt s...more
Liz (The Bookish Liz)
I had picked this book out on a hunt to find a good father/daughter relationship story that was either central or very important to the overall novel. There is a father/daughter relationship in this story, however I have a lot to say about this book.

I had high hopes about this book because it sounded right up my alley with the plot and characters, however Poe Holly is actually rather an uninspiring character and hard to be empathetic too. Her mother is away in South America, leaving her with her...more
Ania
Harmon tells a story of Poe – a 16 year old girl. Her parents are divorced: mum throws herself into humanitarian work in a jungle on other side of the planet, and dad works as a high school counsellor. Poe, after moving in with dad, starts a new school. She’s got already a luggage of challenging behaviour from previous schools: punk clothes, in-your-face attitude and speaking out loud what she thinks. She is a rebellious girl and is not always right – through the story she learns to tame herself...more
AnnaBnana
Poe Holly is a punk kid with an absent mom and a dad she's never met. She's got some serious unresolved anger issues and seems to have been kicked out of more schools than she could count on 2 hands. When Poe's mom, a surgeon who seems to care about little in the world outside of appearances, decides to go off to South America to work, Poe gets shipped off to live with her dad--a guy she's talked to on the phone only a handful of times. And if adjusting to a new school and a new town aren't hard...more
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