Nov 20, 2012
Review: Danny's Mom
Danny's Mom by Elaine Wolf
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A compelling and timely novel about a grief-stricken mother who launches a one-woman campaign against bullying in the volatile high school where she works.
Beth Maller returns to her job as a high school guidance counselor shortly after her son, Danny, is killed in a winter car accident. Beth hadn't wanted Danny to drive that snowy night, but her husband insisted the roads were safe. Beth blames him for Danny's death, and she blames herself for allowing fear of confrontation to paralyze her.
Now back at work, Beth rails against the everyday injustices she had overlooked until her world cracked open. Her new circumstances cause Beth to become a major player in the moral battles being waged in Meadow Brook High -- where homophobia snakes through the halls, administrators cling to don't-rock-the-boat policies, and mean girls practice bullying as if it were a sport. While Beth struggles to find her "new normal," she learns to speak out, risking her career and her marriage, the very life she's embraced.
DANNY'S MOM shows what really goes on behind the closed doors of our schools from the perspective of adults who are charged with keeping our children safe. It's a powerful novel that will appeal to mothers (and grandmothers), to the millions of adults who work in our schools, and to the LGBTQ community.
I was so lucky to receive an ARC (AdVance reader's copy) of this wonderful book from the author for an honest review. From the beginning, I felt pulled in by Beth's feelings of moral obligation and her feelings that she was responsible for truly helping her students as she had always taught her recently deceased teenager Danny to do in life. Beth's feelings of loss and anger over her son Danny's death is so heart breaking and realistic. The descriptions and emotions will ring true to anyone who has suffered a serious mourning period over a close loved one.
Beth returns to school too early after her son's death and finds herself, as a school counselor, pulled into a teen girl's nightmare of bullying / abuse by other students. The student is not gay, but the teens bullying her have also been involved in posting "hate" signs and such around the school. The student turns to Beth for help, but the school officials who see the problem as linked to the homosexual prejudice want the situation swept under the rug. Beth finds herself having to choose between her career & the safety of one of the students.
Along the way, Beth funds herself also having problems with her husband and realizing that she had cut her husband out of her life years ago because if her closeness with her son. She feels lost at every turn and struggles to do the right thing and figure out how to have a life at all without her son Danny.
This story was very emotional and very inspiring. It had action, suspense, and enough of the real world drama to make me sit up and take notice. Life is full of hard decisions and many opportunities to "do the right thing" that many of us let pass by because of the need to fit in, follow the crowd, or be popular. I truly enjoyed this book and believe it would give many something to think about.
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