It Wasn’t Me

Dana Alison Levy. Delacorte, $16.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-5247-6643-6
When Massachusetts seventh-grader Theo’s self-portraits are vandalized with gay slurs in the student gallery, and someone destroys his long-exposure pinhole cameras shortly afterward, it seems that someone is out to get him. In a Breakfast Club–like scenario, teacher Ms. Lewiston calls Theo and the bystanders of the incident—as Theo narrates “the Over-achiever, the Jock, the Nerd, the Weirdo, and the Screw-up”—to a five-day “Justice Circle” during school vacation. Framed by daily reflective assessments written by each bystander and told through Theo’s eyes, Levy (The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher) subtly takes the reluctant group from anger and suspicion to a moving level of friendship, vulnerability, and trust as the kids open up to one another. Adults are virtually invisible, save the venerable Ms. Lewiston, which successfully creates an all-kid dynamic peppered with laugh-out-loud moments. What at first seems like a novel solely about bullying becomes a story about six kids who find their way to true friendship and fierce loyalty, and why restorative justice is worth the time and effort it takes. Ages 10–up. Agent: Marietta B. Zacker, Gallt & Zacker Literary. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/17/2018
Release date: 11/13/2018
Library Binding - 336 pages - 978-1-5247-6644-3
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio

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