Cascading Petals ISBN: 9781775067627, Huntson Press, an e-book by Jane C. Brady.
Jewel Hart is an attractive student entering her senior year in high school. She has a 2-year older brother who is a tease but loves her and a sister she is responsible for collecting from her pre-school and taking care of until her mother returns from the office where she is officer manager for her husband’s very successful law firm. Her parents still a loving couple, also attempt to be good parents providing not only for the children’s desires but a healthy home life as well. Her brother, now in college, is pretty much a ‘loner’, never acquiring or needing friends. Contrarily, Jewel has a deep need for close friends and dreads this senior year because she has none. In spite of her seemingly ideal background, she has an extremely fragile ego that was first fractured thirteen years previously by acts of bullying classmates, people with whom she of necessity has associated for all of these years in this rather stable upper class neighborhood. The main bullying activity is rendered by Lexi and Amy, attractive girls with problems of their own that cause them and Lexi’s muscled boyfriend Chad to act as they do. Chad is totally spoiled and more or less out-of-control as the result of a father who provides him with everything but attention. He drinks heavily, drives recklessly, and delivers occasional drugs. Most fortunately however, Jewel meets Kaiden Carter, an extremely kind, seemingly self-assured young man in spite of secretly carried horrendous psychological baggage. He had just transferred to the area when he and his widowed mother moved in with his grandparents in this neighborhood. They become friends along with Finn Garcia, a pleasant, intelligent ‘nerd’ Mexican also transferred to the school and friendless. The plot evolves into following the interactivities of these individuals through the year with Kai and Jewel’s relationship developing into a budding love based on their common need. The devastating results arising from the actions of the disruptive characters along with the parental activity or lack thereof coupled with ineffective and/or lack of, proper action/reaction by teachers and other persons in authority also are set forth in some detail.
Discussion: The author has set her tale in Canada, but has described a situation of social injustice replete with abominable action, unacceptable neglect and ineffectual authoritative reaction that all-too-frequently is encountered in many countries leading most often to disastrous results. In general the message is clearly presented and described. The characters are obnoxious and/or suffering according to their position as attacker or attacked, the parents are credibly described in their rolls, the teachers both good and bad are as would be expected and the authoritative figures as ineffectual regrettably as commonly is the case. Thus in general, the author has provided a clear and compassionate message about the plight of bullied children and their bullies. Additionally, she has offered not only such causative factors as domestic abuse, but also some measure of description of effect of parental personal activity resultant from their own psychological baggage and its effect upon their children. However, the seemingly effective corrective course of action provided, regrettably at least for this reader, is a little too unrealistically ‘pie-in-the-sky’. Either Jewel’s family was not as lovingly appreciative of their daughter’s years-lasting problem as described, or they were completely incompetent in the practice of law, the latter seemingly strange since he was Senior Partner in a Law Firm doing sufficiently well to have their own prominent building and taking the entire family on exotic vacations. As an additional aside, the two women bullies seemingly were totally aware of the cause of their problems – a rather uncommon occurrence, and certainly not as completely understood as their actual verbalization of their problems would indicate.
Conclusion: An interesting and compassionate presentation of a universal problem with a disappointing supposedly effective corrective course of action.
3* 4* Compassionate presentation; 2* disappointing corrective activity.