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Burn    by Suzanne Phillips order for
by Suzanne Phillips
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Michelle York

School violence is something that every teen knows something about. If they haven't been hurt by it themselves, they've seen others become victims.

In this awful age where a culture of violence exists on school campuses across the country, a new book, Burn, tells a timely story. High school freshman Cameron Grady is wrongly pegged as a homosexual and tormented by a group of vicious bullies. Slowly, Cameron's mental state spirals downward along with his grades. His mother, who has escaped an abusive marriage, is unable to comprehend the depth of her son's problem in time to intervene.

Cameron's anger burns within him, threatening to engulf not only himself but all of those around him. Then, after suffering a vicious and humiliating assault, he turns his anger on another student, killing him. But Cameron hasn't avenged himself against one of his attackers, he's killed an innocent student - someone who had witnessed his humiliating attack.

Phillips deftly handles this topic without either glorifying Cameron's violence or excusing it away. She makes you question whether the consequences should not include some mercy, and whether the bully and the do-nothing adults should not bear some guilt too.

The subject matter may not be for everyone, but the story is poignant and, unfortunately, well-timed for today's youth.

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