The Revealers by Dough Wilhelm

The Revealers has a simple plot (middle school outcasts try to find their place in a stereotypical school run by cruel popular kids), yet I found myself longing to keep going back to the book and reluctantly putting it down when I had to do something else. As a high school English teacher, I try to communicate that effective conflict keeps the reader asking, "What happens next?" And while this plot seems to lean toward the side of predictability, I could not shake the need to know how it all turned out.

The three main characters are all typical outcasts. Catalina is a minority. Doug is awkward. Elliot is a geek. The three are drawn to one another and find that they have a common goal, to no longer be the object of ridicule. Their solution is to broadcast their stories over the school's LAN. Soon they find that they're not the only ones with stories, and each edition of "The Revealer"that the send out empowers other students to share their stories while simultaneously deflating bullies' motivation to be cool by terrorizing others. Of course, with any situation where the kids take over and leave the adults out, there's an inherent edginess that keeps the conflict alive.

The book will quickly be dated because of the plot's reliance on a "new technology" where the students can communicate with each other via the local network. In an effort to keep the story realistic, the author has also included some explicit language and references to adult material. But for now, Wilhelm has provided readers with a controversial solution that empowers kids to not allow themselves to be the target of bullies' jeers and taunts.

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