There’s something I need to talk with you about tonight dear readers – something I’ve been meaning to write about since the beginning of October. You see, October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. Statistically speaking, 1 in 3 students say that they have been bullied at school. I was one of those students. My children have been those students, and sadly, my sons have been the bully as well.
I graduated high school in 1985, way before the advent of Facebook, we had AOL and a few years later, good ole AOL instant messaging. Remember those days? With the explosion of Facebook on the scene in 2004; however, it has ingrained itself as a nearly inescapable force in American life and been passionately adopted by our tweens and teens as a main means of communication with each other.
Tonight, I’m curling up with the book Saving Phoebe Murrow by Herta Feely. Hubby watches this stupid show every Saturday night called Svengooli so I’ve decided that’s going to be my night to read a new book each week.
Saving Phoebe Murrow is inspired by the tragic story of Megan Meier, a Missouri teenager who, just a few weeks shy of her 14th birthday, took her own life following an extraordinarily troubling cyber-bullying incident instigated by a friend’s mother.
Isabel Murrow is a suburban mother trying to balance her busy career as a D.C. lawyer and her family, who she would do anything to protect. In a world of bullies and temptations, all Isabel wants is to keep thirteen-year-old, Phoebe, safe. As a mother, I’ve done the same. You do everything within your power to keep them safe, to keep them sheltered from the hurts in life and away from those friends and circumstances that could have lasting effects for the rest of their lives.
In our novel, Isabel fails to recognize another mother’s mounting fury and the danger her daughter faces by flirting with a mysterious boy online. A cyber-bullying incident aimed at Phoebe, with horrific consequences, finally pushes Isabel to the edge.
The story line of this novel and the real life tragic events of Megan’s life mirror an incident from my own high school years that I will never forget. Back in the early 80s though, we still wrote letters. I remember having a romance with a young man I’d only met on paper. We shared letters back and forth, facilitated by a group of “friends” at school. Months went by where we traded letters and promises to meet, promises that never happened. It was later that I learned that I’d been duped, that there was no “Mr. Right” and that I had been receiving letters written by this so-called group of “friends” who had a good laugh at my expense. At that age, we tend to pour our hearts and souls into a letter – or an email – and emotions and feelings that we share with a person are intended for that person … not for the entire world to see.
As Herta Feely states:
“Much has been written about ‘mean girls’ and the endless little tribes and misguided loyalties that form among teenage girls,” Feely writes. “But a lot depends on the adult role models available to them – and with Saving Phoebe Murrow, I wanted to highlight the fact that this same behavior exists among adult women.”
I’ve only just recently started reading the book, but I’d give it a 5-star rating already. If you’re the mother of teenagers, or a teenager yourself – I highly recommend giving this a read. Herta Feely delivers a smart-paced, shocking and sadly familiar expertly crafted novel about the timeless struggle between mothers and daughters.
November 2016 Update: I finished Saving Phoebe Murrow and literally was crying my eyes out at the similarities between this mother/daughter and my own mother/daughter relationship with my mother, as well as with my daughter. Saving Phoebe Murrow definitely deserves a 5-star rating and is worth your time to purchase!