If you have some kind of rosy-spectacled view of kids as sweet, angelic little creatures, this series will soon remind you how they really are. As Kurt Vonnegut so perceptively said, children are the cruelest, most selfish people in the world, except for adults. Here, Max screws up one day, and everyone in the class suddenly turns against him. They are indeed horrible, and if you're wondering how anyone could go into a school and shoot 20 children, Dominique de Saint-Mars will rapidly make it more comprehensible. At the end of just one day of bullying, Max, a pretty normal kid who's generally full of confidence, is a quivering wreck. Imagine what it might be like if you're already a bit weird and unstable, you have no supporting family (Max's big sister Lili's got his back as usual), and it goes on for years. Very easy to see how that could tip some unlucky person over the edge.
The only thing I can say against the book is that it isn't as good as the truly terrifying Lili est harcelée à l'école
. Saint-Mars cares passionately about the issue of bullying, and it looks to me like she wasn't satisfied with this one; she wanted to get it right, and in the later book she nailed it. But this one is well worth it if you want to increase your French taunting vocabulary: you'll rapidly learn how call someone a nul
, a ringard
, an haleine de phoque
, a poule mouillée
, or a nain
. If you're willing to take the trouble, you might even feel like learning this little poem:
Et toi, toi en face,
t'as pas vu la tête que t'as
tu fais peur a Dracula,
pif, peuf, tête de boeuf,
va te faire cuire un oeuf!
But the very worst thing you can call someone, the thing that really hurts, is S.A.
- for sans amis
, kid with no friends. They keep calling Max an S.A.
, and it's shocking to see how effective it is. Adam Lanza didn't seem to have had any friends. I wonder if he was called an S.A.
, or its American equivalent.