Sunday, November 24, 2013

Amy's Review: Living in Dog Years: A Reflection on High School Hell by E. Bell


Listina Bello has been on a perpetual search for happiness ever since she graduated from high school ten years ago. Legal assistant by day and partier by night, Listina thinks she is functioning perfectly fine. She drinks a bottle of Pinot every night, but still manages to keep her dead-end job, her Manhattan apartment, and her social life. Unfortunately, she could not be more wrong.

With a bottle of wine as her companion, Listina trolls Facebook one night, finally landing on a photo she thought she blocked. As she stares at the old yearbook picture of the smiling girls who relentlessly bullied her back in high school, she suddenly realizes she has been suppressing her emotions for years and hiding behind a myriad of distractions, hoping to numb, or even kill, her feelings altogether. With no other way out but up, Listina relies on old diary entries to dig deep inside herself, return mentally to her seemingly perfect hometown, and finally face her harsh label, relive the taunts, and experience the heartache all over again.

In this poignant novel, a young woman torn between her past and her future must finally shake the identity she was unfairly given in order to begin to find her own.

Normally I write a review very quickly after finishing the book.  But this book stuck with me for many days after reading it and I felt like I needed additional time to process it before writing my review.  (And, if you know me, once I finish a book, it is forgotten about and onto the next.)

This book speaks the honest truth about being bullied.  It is brutal and, at times, hard to read.  The main character Li, is very hard to like because her back story and overall personality and demeanor.  Li is in therapy and reliving her life through her old diary entries.  I loved how the diary entries drew out Li's past. You may see yourself within this story, as either as the victim or the bully.  How often have you said something to someone that you shouldn't have?  I give this book 5 stars for how thought provoking it was, and for its wonderful writing style.

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