Breaking Point by Alex Flinn

Pub. Date: May 2003

  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Format: Paperback, 256pp
  • Sales Rank: 61,414
  • Age Range: Young Adult
Paul is new to GATE high school, a private school where his mom has gotten a teaching job.  He is bullied and picked on until he becomes friends with a boy named Charlie.  Charlie seems like the perfect child.  He doesn’t get in trouble at school, he gets good grades, he is very popular with the students and the teachers, and he is in athletics.  When Paul starts hanging out with Charlie everyone becomes his friend.  He begins drinking, causing minor destruction like knocking over mail boxes, and leaves campus at lunch with his new friends.  Girls start to notice him and he begins to party.  The problem is, hanging with Charlie comes at a price.  The first time Charlie asks for a favor, it is to break into the school and change Charlie’s grade for one class.  Paul hesitates with this and says no.  The next day, Paul is back to being bullied.  So, Paul decides to do it.  Then Charlie and him become closer.  Paul goes over to Charlie’s house everyday after school.  They play video games together on the computer and tell each other secrets.  Charlie calls Paul his best friend.  It isn’t until Charlie asks Paul to do something even more dangerous that Paul hits his breaking point.
Flinn states that she wrote this book about something that scared her.  She wanted to investigate what it would be like to be inside the head of a high school student that was traveling through this uncertainty and struggle with the hatred of his classmates.  What would it take for someone to be pushed so hard that they would take drastic measures.  As a school teacher, I often wonder the same thing.  I studied a lot about violence in schools because I wanted to be someone who would stop it.  I enjoy the fact that my students like to be around me even though I can be strict in class.  I’ve often found that middle school and high school students put more effort into your classroom when they enjoy being there.  I know this aside is not directly related to the book, but it is the reason why I wanted to read it in the first place.  I try to read all of the books that I can that involve school violence.  This is very well written.  I can identify with Paul.  I wish that someone would have seen what was going on before the plot escalated.  I wonder if people saw the trouble in Charlie and ignored it.  That direction is something I would have enjoyed discovering more about.  I would recommend this book to young adults that are 14 and over with some discussion from adults.  I think it’s an important topic to investigate and discussion is crucial in that investigation.  Parents and teachers should definitely read this book with their students/children.
4/5 stars

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