Arminzerella's Reviews > The Truth about Truman School

The Truth about Truman School by Dori Hillestad Butler
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's review
Dec 21, 2008

it was ok
bookshelves: realistic, young-adult-fiction, cyberbullying, borrowed-from-the-library
Read in July, 2008

** spoiler alert ** When Zebby and Amr create their website – The Truth About Truman School – they hope that people will post newsworthy stories that will get people talking about their middle school. Instead, their site turns into a gossip mill with one purpose – to bring down Lilly Clarke. How does it get sidetracked so quickly? Why is it so easy to turn everyone against Lilly Clarke? And who hates her so much? You can bet Lilly Clarke wants to know.

The Truth about Truman School is told by a number of different students from the school – all of them have their own version of the truth as they see it. Basically, it’s a story about how bullying – particularly cyber-bullying – can get out of control. It’s much easier to post things online – anonymously, even – and just let people find and believe them. And it’s hard to fight back when you can’t pinpoint who is sending the attacks. Lilly isn’t a particularly nice person, either. She’s done and said a lot of really mean things in order to fit in and be popular, so there are a lot of people who have reason to dislike her.

This read like a more shallow Heathers (movie) for the digital natives. Except that the only thing that makes them “natives” is that they grew up with technology – that doesn’t mean that they know any netiquette. Even though it’s somewhat manipulative, this story gets under your skin – Why do kids have to be so mean to each other? What does it get them? Why is it still such a big insult to cast aspersions on someone’s sexual orientation? Why is popularity used for evil? When will people ever grow out of this? How prevalent is cyber-bullying? I don’t have the answers to any of these questions, but if you read The Truth about Truman School, you’ll have the opportunity to think about them.

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