Title: Hell School – Fresh Meat
Author: Heidi Angell
Released: March 18, 2016
Star Rating: 5/5
Angell’s book is a young adult novel based on true events about a young girl in high school who ends up being stalked by a fellow student. The novel is written in chapters and diary entries and I absolutely loved the use of both of these aspects. Using the diary entries gave us a better sense of who Sam is as a young girl and how she evolves. They also proved her naivety drew empathy from the reader. Sam is a young, unsuspecting girl who gets involved in circumstances that aren’t fair to her and she seems to be in a bad position from the beginning of the book. Having moved to a different town and state just before high school is hectic enough and seemed to make her character a target for the other students. They didn’t just target her because she was new, but because she was a beautiful person and the others were envious of her. Reading this book made me remember the horrors of high school and I was surprised about how much I had forgotten about the high school experience. This just proves how gifted a writer Angell is. She not only transports you back to that time and place but is also able to relate to young people who will be reading her book now and in the future
Sam, the protagonist of the novel, is a beautiful character. In the beginning of the novel she was seen as childish and just beginning to understand the world, but as the novel went on she began to embrace her body and how boys were beginning to see her. This seemed to awaken her sexuality and changed how she saw herself as well. She was not comfortable with this sexual awakening and it only brought her problems. All of the boys seemed to want to be with her even though she wasn’t able to date until she was sixteen and rumors began to circulate that she was sleeping with one of the older boys, Wes, who was only her friend. I loved how Angell seemed to sum up how Sam felt and how the other boys and girls seemed to see her in the sexual sense:
“’You know, guys like you for a reason. Lots of girls don’t get it, so those who think that you have some cool secret that they don’t, resent you for it.’”
“’You are hot, you are stacked, and you are completely oblivious. But that comes off to them as so confident in your good looks that you don’t bother with the clothes. That kind of confidence and acceptance of yourself is intoxicating.’”
Angell perfectly captured these aspects of young women who aren’t focused on their looks but are seen only for their looks by others and how this causes problems for them. Angell clearly knows people, and herself, and I loved reading her perspective on young people because they were so accurate and inventive.
“Hell School: Fresh Meat” is based on Angell’s own past and it is clear to the reader how strongly she feels about bringing awareness to society over the danger and importance of stalking. I could feel her passion radiating throughout the pages and I couldn’t put it down. I read it in only two days and with my busy life, that was a feat! I highly recommend it to anyone who has gone through something similar or anyone who just wants a thrilling, high school based novel. I would gladly read it again and again. 5/5 stars doesn’t seem to be enough for this beautiful novel.
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