Most teenagers bow to pressure of being accepted by cliques which makes them prone to bullying and psychological abuse via exclusion.
The High Road by Jennie Marima brings this plight to the fore in a fast moving read reminiscent of many high school experiences.
Bella is your typical high school girl in Form Two: industrious, smart, nervy and nerdy teenager. The bespectacled student has an insatiable desire to be accepted by the "cool gang" of High Road Academy.
She is tired of being labelled a dreary mouse together with her friends Eva and Tom. They have been shunned by virtually every other student and are held in low regard.
To Bella, High Road Academy is an extension of a house party that she never gets invited to.
Kimaru Tu alias Kim, a popular girl always followed around by her two best friends Linda and Rachel, is the queen of High Road. She invites Bella to join her group not because she sees her as "cool" but because she intends to exploit her intelligence.
As the high school nerd and obviously desperate to be accepted, Bella has no idea that all Kim wants is to use her to do her homework.
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High Road is run by Masha, Boo, Kip and McKenzie; wayward boys associated with alcohol, cigarettes and numerous girlfriends. During her induction into the "cool" crowd, Bella has her first encounter with debauchery and pays the ultimate price for her indulgence at a young age.
Jennie Marima, the author of the book, brings to life fictional characters that most of us have may have come across during our high school experiences. The book is a wake-up call to typical high school students who are inebriated with wrong notions of young adult life.
It is a provocative read that tackles serious issues in our society such as sex in schools, teen pregnancy and abortion, alcoholism and drop-outs. Beyond the tastefully written story are sublime messages of empathy and friendship making it a great read for parents, teachers and students alike.