Until It Hurts to Stop by Jennifer R. Hubbard
"In seventh grade, Maggie Camden was the class outcast. Every day, the other girls tripped her, pinched her, trapped her in the bathroom, told her she would be better off dead. Four years have passed since then, and Maggie’s tormentors seem to have moved on. The ringleader of them all, Raleigh Barringer, even moved out of town. But Maggie has never stopped watching for attacks, and every laugh still sounds like it’s at her expense. The only time Maggie feels at peace is when she’s hiking up in the mountains with her best friend, Nick.
Lately, though, there’s a new sort of tension between the two of them—a tension both dangerous and delicious. But how can Maggie expect anything more out of Nick when all she’s ever been told is that she’s ugly, she’s pathetic, she’s unworthy of love? And how can she ever feel safe, now that Raleigh Barringer is suddenly—terrifyingly—back in town?"- summary from Amazon
I've really enjoyed Hubbard's previous two books, so was excited to read her new one but it fell a little flat for me unfortunately. I just couldn't really connect to the characters at all, especially Maggie; the prose was compelling enough to keep me reading (and it's a short book; ended up reading it all in one day), but I just never felt this urgency.
I do think there is an interesting concept here that could have been executed a bit better, about how the bullied never forget. Maggie is constantly on edge because of having been tormented in junior high whereas everyone else has moved on and, in some cases, even regret their actions. But it's hard for those being bullied to move on- your insecurities have been fed and grown out of control, and it's hard to get past that. Especially when you're entering romantic territory as Maggie is with her friend Nick, and I do think Hubbard did a great job of handling that obstacle really well and making it realistic. Their interactions in the book are the best part of the whole novel.
It's not an easy book to read, as Maggie is very focused on herself and her own problems, which I'm sure will be hard on some readers. The reader can see what's going on but it takes Maggie a long time to make the realizations, so I can see that being a bit frustrating for some people.
Overall, it is a good book with a good message. It's not a bad way to spend an afternoon, and hopefully it can do some good for some teenagers out there who feel bullied.
FTC: Received e-galley from Netgalley. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.