cover image Bad Apple

Bad Apple

Laura Ruby, . . HarperTeen, $16.99 (247pp) ISBN 978-0-06-124330-1

Tola insists that nothing happened with her art teacher, but nobody seems to believe the high school junior, from her mother (who insists Mr. Mymer “took advantage of my daughter, a vulnerable young girl”) to the vicious readers of a gossip blog called “The Truth About Tola Riley.” Their collective disbelief leaves Tola wondering, “Am I so small, so insignificant that my own story doesn't need me anymore?” Readers will feel like Tola is hiding something, however, and will quickly become engrossed in piecing together what really happened. Ruby (Play Me ) parcels out her story slowly, as Tola documents her relationship with Mr. Mymer, who has been suspended from teaching, as well as her family's mounting problems. To fill in details, chapters end with “comments” from other characters, from her mostly absent father to a former friend who uses the Web to spread pain. Readers will likely find the fairy tales Tola is obsessed with to be a clunky device, especially as the book reaches its conclusion; otherwise this is a creatively constructed story with a modern-day scandal layered on top of more traditional teen troubles. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)