Emily Cassady's Reviews > Harmless

Harmless by Dana Reinhardt
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's review
Oct 30, 2007

it was amazing
Recommended for: YA readers and parents
Read in August, 2007

Mariah, Anna, and Emma all come together during their freshman year at ODS. Mariah has an older boyfriend at public school who constantly is giving her hickeys. When the girls become friends, Mariah introduced Anna and Emma to his friends. There was alcohol at the party and Emma ended up having sex with one of the boys she just met. This fundamentally alters Emma. She knows it was not rape, but she also knows she wasn’t ready. She silently struggles with this issue.
Meanwhile, the other girls are oblivious and when plans arise for the next weekend, they are all on board. They each tell their mothers they are staying at the other girls place for a sleepover and a movie, and then sneak out. In the middle of the party, Emma’s mother called to say that she stopped by the movie and didn’t see Emma “WHERE WAS SHE”???
The girls all freak out and ditch the party. They decide that they MUST come up with a plan. So they say that a man attacked Emma. While he was attacking, Mariah snuck up with a stone and pelted him on the head. The girls were all able to escape unscathed.
It is a simple lie where no one gets hurt. They will all be protected. Best of all, none of the parents will figure out where they really were.
However, things quickly spiral out of control. Another girl goes missing. The town is in an uproar about keeping the streets safe for young women. The parents make the girls go to the cops…one thing builds on top of another, until one of them cracks and must tell the truth to save herself.
Told in three different narrative voices, each girl has a turn explaining the situation. It is a very interesting book to read. You feel mounting tension the whole time and you are quickly drawn into the lie and the story. Reinhardt, who previously wrote “A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life” has done an excellent job with a timely book about when to tell the truth and when lies hurt. “Harmless” has a very good message for students to read, yet isn’t too preachy. Sex and alcohol do make an appearance. However, I think it is portrayed responsibly with ramifications fully explored on many different levels.

I personally wrote the author, and this was her reply:

Thank you so much for the thoughtful email. I can't tell you how much it
means to me. I also want to thank you for all you do to get kids reading.

I was at the Texas Librarians Association Conference this past April in
San Antonio and enjoyed it tremendously. I hope to visit Texas again
soon, and hope to make it to more TLA conferences in the future.

I have a new book coming out sometime next year, probably May or June,
called HOW TO BUILD A HOUSE and I'm hard at work on another novel that I'm
very excited about. So yes, I'm still plugging away, and I hope these new
books don't disappoint!

Thanks again for taking the time to write.
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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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message 1: by bjneary (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:53PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

bjneary I will definitely be book talking this one when we do realistic fiction!!! The drama is palpable and girls will love it!

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