Martina “Marty” Hart is really nice. At least, that’s what people think.
It’s Marty’s junior year at Minster High. Minster’s a small town where making great grades, smiling pretty, helping old people, running the new-student Welcoming Committee, and putting up decorations for all the dances–including the totally awful Hot Shot fall hunting celebration–gets you … what? Marty’s not sure. Instead of dreaming about a sororities-and-frats future at nearby University of Michigan, she’s restless, searching for a way out of the box her controlling mother and best frenemy Sarah have locked her in. When Lil–don’t call her Lily!–Hatfield transfers to Minster, Marty gets her chance. Lil’s different. She smokes, wears black, listens to angry punk records, and lives in a weird trailer with her mother. Lil has secrets–secrets that make her a target for all the gossiping and online bullying Minster can muster. But so does Marty. And Marty sees something different in Lil. Something honest. Something real.
Playing Nice is the achingly true story of a girl who’s been following the rules for so long she’s forgotten who she was when she started. It’s about falling in love with the wrong people and not seeing the right ones, about the moments in life when you step out of line, take a chance … and begin to break free.
This book is a must read for anyone who is or has experienced any form of bullying or has ever been a teenaged girl. I found Marty to be a likeable, interesting and tough. She is the kind of girl I wish my daughter would meet in school. Is she perfect? No. Is she human? Absolutely. The humanity is what makes her so believable.
Marty realizes how sheltered and shallow she has been most of her life when she meets, Lil who challenges everything comfortable about Marty’s life. Little does Marty know, Lil would be the one to show her how much fun life can be. She will also be the person to show her how deeply hurt a person can be and still be strong. Lil and Marty are ridiculed for their friendship by people who do not understand them, and are afraid of the differences they represent. The bullying ranges from verbal abuse in the halls at school to cyber bullying, and vandalism.
Through all of this, Marty struggles to do the right thing, even when the right thing challenges her own parents.
The best part about this book, in my opinion, is that Marty recognized and confronted the bullying that was happening amongst the adults in her town and her own home. She hears her mother gossip and listens to the townspeople make comments about Lil and her mother as if they are not people worthy of respect. Marty chooses to do what she knows is right and sticks by Lil, even at the cost of her own reputation. She makes mistakes, falls for the wrong guy, looses her focus in school, and falls flat on her face at times, but that is the mark of a great book~ it is relatable.
My Over All Rating: