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If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say
Contributor(s): Sales, Leila
ISBN: 0374380996     ISBN-13: 9780374380991
Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux
    OUR PRICE: $16.19  
Product Type: Hardcover
Published: May 2018
Annotation: After word-loving seventeen-year-old Winter Halperin thoughtlessly posts a racially offensive remark, her comment goes viral, turning her life into a nightmare.
Additional Information
Library of Congress Subjects:
Social media; Fiction.
Interpersonal relations; Fiction.
Conduct of life; Fiction.
Dewey: [Fic]
LCCN: 2017042317
Academic/Grade Level: Grade 7-9, Age 12-14
Book type: Juvenile Fiction
Physical Information: 8.50" H x 5.50" W x 1.25" (0.95 lbs) 327 pages
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.

Reviewed by Horn Book Magazine Reviews (Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2018 #3)
In this ripped-from-the-headlines novel, high school senior Winter Halperin—former National Spelling Bee champ and aspiring writer—faces internet notoriety after she posts the following online: "We learned many surprising things today. Like dehnstufe is apparently a word, and that a black kid can actually win the Spelling Bee." That she meant it as an ironic joke is lost as the post goes viral; instead of the expected few "likes" from her close-knit group of guy friends, Winter (who is white) gets thousands of vitriolic comments in response and becomes part of the news cycle. Winter's reactions to the perceived injustice are squirm-inducing—she fumbles a public apology, grapples with her right to victimhood as a "middle class, overeducated white girl," and accuses an offended African American friend of betrayal—but they feel honest to her character. A stay at a "reputation rehab" program eventually helps Winter gather the courage to tell her own story, and she finds solace in an understated romance with the paraplegic son of a disgraced banker. Not all readers will be willing to give Winter a chance at redemption, but those who do will find a thoughtful coming-of-age story that underlines the power of empathy, community, and believing in one's own capacity for positive change. jessica tackett macdonald Copyright 2018 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2018 February #3)

When 17-year-old former National Spelling Bee champion Winter Halperin tweets about the latest winner—a 12-year-old African-American girl—she finds herself in the middle of a maelstrom. Not only is she vilified as a racist, but one of her best friends, Jason, an African-American, cuts off ties. Winter is stripped of everything that she believes is important: her championship title, her college acceptance, and her belief that she is a "good girl." Determined to right the wrong, she enrolls in Revibe, a five-week boot camp that helps those who have made epic errors in judgment (and were crucified for it online) find a path to forgiveness. Sales (This Song Will Save Your Life) tackles a thoroughly modern problem, and she is careful to stay within the gray, neither condoning Winter's explanation nor fully embracing the meaningless apology. A nuanced approach to how the internet encourages the dehumanization of users gives this novel its realistic tone and serves as a strong warning to teens (and their parents). Ages 12–up. Agent: Stephen Barbara, Inkwell Management. (May)

Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2018 April)

Gr 9 Up—Winter Halperin has always seen herself as a "good girl": she gets high grades, stays out of trouble, and strongly identifies with her academic achievements, including winning the National Spelling Bee in seventh grade. Then she posts a thoughtless and racist comment online, thinking only a few of her friends will see it. When her post unexpectedly goes viral and becomes the subject of national news stories, Winter suddenly faces vicious online attacks. She is stripped of her National Spelling Bee title and rejected from the prestigious college she was planning to attend. Terrified that she will never regain control of her life, Winter begins to have debilitating anxiety and panic attacks. Eventually, she finds her way to an elite "reputation rehabilitation" retreat, where her fellow participants have all faced some type of public shaming. The participants are coached to atone for their actions by apologizing to everyone they may have hurt, even if the apology is insincere. While the retreat helps Winter find happiness, confidence, and a new romantic interest, it's not evident that she truly atones for her racist mistake or the pain it caused. This is a message-driven book: Internet shaming is wrong. Unfortunately, weak character development and dubious plot twists prevent readers from engaging on an emotional level with this timely topic. While the novel could serve as a springboard for classroom discussion about Internet shaming, it never fully addresses or resolves the problematic premise. VERDICT Not recommended.—Kelsy Peterson, Forest Hill College, Melbourne, Australia

Copyright 2018 School Library Journal.