April 12th, 2016/ ISBN 9781250066848
by Elise Cooper
by Allison Brennan is a very powerful story. The novel delves
into very relevant issues from cyber bullying to social media’s
role within people’s lives. The author makes a good point
about how social media makes it easier for someone to say mean
things without any repercussions. This intense plot also focuses
on psychological issues involving a mentally challenged character
and how family dynamics play into divorce.
The plot has a cyber bully, Ivy, falling off a cliff; was she
pushed or was it accidental? Maxine Revere, an investigative
reporter that works on cold cases, is asked to find the truth
about the fall. A mentally challenged eighteen year old, stepbrother
to Ivy, is suspected by her mother of being the murderer. Max
sees immediately he is a gentle giant who loved his sister in
spite of her cruelty that caused a peer to commit suicide. With
a huge list of suspects, Max must pursue the truth and allow
justice to prevail.
Being a mother of five, Brennan realized “I did not grow
up with social media. In the 1970s and 80s I could make mistakes
and hopefully learn from them. I knew the stupid thing I did
was not going to be around forever or go viral. Today it is
on the Internet for everybody to remember forever. It comes
down to our kids never being able to say or do anything they
might regret, with the possibility their lives might be ruined
forever. Teenagers always make mistakes, which is why I love
writing about them or young adults. My family has a rule now
because of what happened a few years ago. We had gone out to
dinner and all my five kids were either on video games or texting
on their phones. ‘I said that’s it.’ I told
them ‘keep it in your pocket or I will put it in my purse.’
After that when we went out to dinner once a month we were actually
able to have a conversation.”
Brennan has a way of writing characters that readers care about.
She allows people to feel certain emotions from the printed
words. What is done beautifully is how she has the readers rooting
for Max to solve the case. Not for the victim Ivy, but for Tommy.
Ivy is seen as a “mean girl” that took joy in exposing
her peers secrets and flaws through a gossip website. Tommy,
a sweet and kind boy, is genuine, honest, and hoping to get
his old life back.
She noted, “Parents also make inappropriate comments or
are always texting. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people
“unfriend” you because of the way you think or the
way you vote. We can’t agree on every single issue. With
social media people can say things or be offensive because they
can distance themselves. Children emulate their parents. I decided
to write about bullying because of a local tragic case of a
young boy killing himself after being bullied online.”
While Max is still brash, outspoken, intelligent, independent,
and tenacious, she is less impulsive, more sensitive, and is
learning to not always say what she thinks. Through her eyes,
readers see Tommy as a heart-wrenching personality and cheer
Max on for caring and wanting to protect him. An interesting
point made was the similarities in personalities between Max
and two of the characters: Tommy and his stepbrother Austin.
Both Tommy and Max found lies devastating, wanting only to be
told the truth, while Austin was protective, and unforgiving
for the circumstances his parents placed him in.
Poisonous has a fast paced plot. This fascinating story
about dysfunctional families and relevant issues of today makes
for a great read.