International Women’s Day: 8 Inspiring Literary Heroines

In honour of International Women’s Day, let’s celebrate some of literature’s most inspiring female characters.

8. Jo March, of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott:

Jo March: tom-boy, hot-tempered and geeky.  She loves Dickens and Shakespeare, holds out on the boys and isn’t afraid to speak her mind.  She is the epitome of being unladylike—she swears, burns her dress, cuts her hair and wants to fight in the Civil War.  And though she hates the idea of romance and marriage, I’m sure she can relate with many women our age.  All in all, she inspired many writers and readers.

7. Anne Shirley, of the Anne of Green Gables books by L.M. Montgomery:

What readers like most in Anne is her “heedless and impulsive” nature.  She was different than the boring and simple citizens of Avonlea as she was talkative and extremely imaginative.  Anne acted not only as Diana Barry’s friend, but as her role model as well.  Unfortunately, when Matthew passes away, she gives up her dreams of going away to teach to take care of Marilla and work at the local school house.  Her decision to give up a part of her dream undermines the greatness she could have accomplished as a school teacher, but her dedication and loyalty to family is just as important.

6. Jane Eyre, of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë:

Jane is one of the earliest representations if individuality, passion and complexity in a female character, she also manages to expose the sexism and classism of her time.  She suffers greatly as an orphaned and impoverished child and as an adult, but always manages to keep herself grounded.  Jane works hard throughout her whole life and falls in love with a man she cannot marry, the handsome Mr. Rochester.  Though he reciprocates her feelings, she knows they cannot be together because of their class difference.  However, Jane’s relationship with Mr. Rochester is the essence of true love, and that is what brings her back to him after she denies someone else’s loveless proposal, something that many women these days fail to ensure for themselves.

5. Hermione Granger, of the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling:

Hermione Granger is intelligent and she fights alongside Harry and Ron throughout the series in the name of good.  Though she starts off as the annoying know-it-all of Hogwarts, she blossoms into an intelligent and beautiful girl who keeps the trio together.  Unfortunately, she isn’t the type to be the hero of her own story and essentially serves Harry as a crutch in times of trouble, however, her character is unfaltering in the face of evil and her dedication and intelligence keep herself and her friends alive time and time again.

4. The Wife of Bath, of the Canterbury Tales by Chaucer:

Originally written in as a one-dimensional and smaller character, Chaucer became enamored with his creation giving her a prologue much longer than her tale.  Though she is quit lewd, the dirty jokes make an argument for female dominance and a woman’s right to control her body.  The Wife of Bath uses rhetorical skill to underscore and attack the sexist traditions of the time.

3. Elizabeth Bennet, of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen:

Elizabeth Bennet is nothing like her sisters—she is not shallow or easily distracted by pretty ribbons and the boys of the visiting regiment, but rather prefers the company of her father and books.  You cannot help with side with this Miss Bennet as she explores the confines of gender and class in Victorian England, all the while falling in love with the handsomest gentleman in literature.

2. Scout Finch, of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee:

Scout Finch is one of the few literary girls encouraged to emote her rebellious spirit, which is quite interesting and controversial in terms of the bigoted society around her.  She lives in a world of hate towards class and race among other things, a world where school bores her despite her great interest in learning.  Scout, being her father’s daughter, sees the tragedy in Maycomb County, and like her father, she tries to do something about it.

1. Éowyn, of the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien:

A noblewoman and shieldmaiden itching to defend her countrymen, Éowyn disguises herself as a man in order to accompany her friends into battle.  This ultimately leads to the best showdown in Middle Earth against the Witch-king of Angmar when he says “No living man can kill me” to which she replies “But no living man am I! You look upon a woman” and proceeds to slay his butt to smithereens.  Éowyn is a true literary (and literally) a hero.


Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded

Title: Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded

Author: Hannah Hart

Publisher: Dey Street Books

Release Date: October 2016

Source: Amazon

Rating: 5/5

By combing through the journals that Hannah has kept for much of her life, this collection of narrative essays deliver a fuller picture of her life, her experiences, and the things she’s figured out about family, faith, love, sexuality, self-worth, friendship and fame.  Revealing what makes Hannah tick, this sometimes cringe-worthy, poignant collection of stories is sure to deliver plenty of Hannah’s wit and wisdom, and hopefully encourage you to try your hand at her patented brand of reckless optimism.

I’m fairly certain that this is the first time I’ve reviewed non-fiction, and not only is this book non-fiction, but it’s an autobiography, which I feel makes it a little weird to review, but I’ll do my best.

I am pretty familiar with Hannah Hart, and watch her and the Holy Trinity religiously on YouTube.  From this alone, I have some general and basic knowledge of who she is and know, from vague allusions, that her life has been a little rocky despite her present-day positive and inspiring persona.  So with that said, I didn’t find her autobiography to be shocking, but I was definitely surprised at the level and amount of hardship, grief and trouble she has lived with and overcome in her lifetime.

As the blurb on the dust jacket reveals, the autobiography tells “tales of family, faith, mental health, LESBIAN SEX, and my ongoing journey to love myself (and not just me selfies.)”  That alone is exemplary of her writing throughout the book.

Hart writes with clarity, honesty, integrity, emotion, and humour, and her voice shines through every piece with hope and faith and inspiration for her readers.  She tackles heavy subjects by telling her story, giving advice, and wishing luck and hope to those struggling with their own issues.  Her goal in writing this autobiography was to build a community wherein no one feels as though they are alone, and I really think this sentiment resonated throughout the book.  Although I may not be dealing with the same issues, I was able to gain insight on my own and really gain perspective in the whole spectrum of it all.

I really liked the addition of her journal entries, pictures and sketches.  I feel like it really added to the work and the message she wanted to get through to the readers.  Her writing is very self-reflective and a look back on her past, so it was interesting to have those aspects and pieces that came from her living through those moments to see how far she has come, how it has shaped her, and what she has learned from those experiences.

Overall, it was a great work.  I highly enjoyed reading Hannah Hart’s autobiography, it just felt real and truthful and genuine.  You can’t really write a review on someone’s life, and I’ve read blurbs on Goodreads of “bad” reviews because of the stories she chose to share.  I can’t wrap my head around those reviews — you can’t review an autobiography based on the life events that the author is sharing with you — because if you’re reviewing an autobiography, it should be based on the quality and effectiveness of the writing and its ability to tell the stories, evoke emotions, and invoke critical thinking.  And, Buffering achieved all of those things and more.

Let me know if you’ve read Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded and if you liked it.  And, don’t forget, practice reckless optimism!

Most Anticipated Reads of 2017

A new year means new books, so I’ve been doing a lot of research on new books that will be coming out in 2017.  After burying my nose in Time Magazine, Globe and Mail, and other literature and entertainment sites and papers, I’ve compiled the following list:


Emma Flint, Little Deaths, January 17

It’s 1965 in a tight-knit working-class neighborhood in Queens, New York, and Ruth Malone–a single mother who works long hours as a cocktail waitress–wakes to discover her two small children, Frankie Jr. and Cindy, have gone missing. Later that day, Cindy’s body is found in a derelict lot a half mile from her home, strangled. Ten days later, Frankie Jr.’s decomposing body is found. Immediately, all fingers point to Ruth.

As police investigate the murders, the detritus of Ruth’s life is exposed. Seen through the eyes of the cops, the empty bourbon bottles and provocative clothing which litter her apartment, the piles of letters from countless men and Ruth’s little black book of phone numbers, make her a drunk, a loose woman–and therefore a bad mother. The lead detective, a strict Catholic who believes women belong in the home, leaps to the obvious conclusion: facing divorce and a custody battle, Malone took her children’s lives.

Pete Wonicke is a rookie tabloid reporter who finagles an assignment to cover the murders. Determined to make his name in the paper, he begins digging into the case. Pete’s interest in the story develops into an obsession with Ruth, and he comes to believe there’s something more to the woman whom prosecutors, the press, and the public have painted as a promiscuous femme fatale. Did Ruth Malone violently kill her own children, is she a victim of circumstance–or is there something more sinister at play?

Inspired by a true story, Little Deaths, like celebrated novels by Sarah Waters and Megan Abbott, is compelling literary crime fiction that explores the capacity for good and evil in us all.



Jason Rekulak, The Impossible Fortress, February 7

Billy Marvin’s first love was a computer. Then he met Mary Zelinsky.

Do you remember your first love?

The Impossible Fortress begins with a magazine…The year is 1987 and Playboy has just published scandalous photographs of Vanna White, from the popular TV game show Wheel of Fortune. For three teenage boys—Billy, Alf, and Clark—who are desperately uneducated in the ways of women, the magazine is somewhat of a Holy Grail: priceless beyond measure and impossible to attain. So, they hatch a plan to steal it.

The heist will be fraught with peril: a locked building, intrepid police officers, rusty fire escapes, leaps across rooftops, electronic alarm systems, and a hyperactive Shih Tzu named Arnold Schwarzenegger. Failed attempt after failed attempt leads them to a genius master plan—they’ll swipe the security code to Zelinsky’s convenience store by seducing the owner’s daughter, Mary Zelinsky. It becomes Billy’s mission to befriend her and get the information by any means necessary. But Mary isn’t your average teenage girl. She’s a computer loving, expert coder, already strides ahead of Billy in ability, with a wry sense of humor and a hidden, big heart. But what starts as a game to win Mary’s affection leaves Billy with a gut-wrenching choice: deceive the girl who may well be his first love or break a promise to his best friends.



Peter Heller, Celine, March 7

Working out of her jewel box of an apartment at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, Celine has made a career of tracking down missing persons, and she has a better record at it than the FBI. But when a young woman, Gabriela, asks for her help, a world of mystery and sorrow opens up. Gabriela’s father was a photographer who went missing on the border of Montana and Wyoming. He was assumed to have died from a grizzly mauling, but his body was never found. Now, as Celine and her partner head to Yellowstone National Park, investigating a trail gone cold, it becomes clear that they are being followed–that this is a case someone desperately wants to keep closed.

Combining the exquisite plotting and gorgeous evocation of nature that have become his hallmark, with a wildly engrossing story of family, privilege, and childhood loss, Peter Heller gives us his finest work to date.



Emily Schultz, Men Walking on Water, March 21

Men Walking on Water opens on a bitter winter’s night in 1927, with a motley gang of small-time smugglers huddled on the banks of the Detroit River, peering towards Canada on the opposite side. A catastrophe has just occurred: while driving across the frozen water by moonlight, a decrepit Model T loaded with whisky has broken the ice and gone under–and with it, driver Alfred Moss and a bundle of money. From that defining moment, the novel weaves its startling, enthralling story, with the missing man at its centre, a man who affects all the characters in different ways. In Detroit, a young mother becomes a criminal to pay down the debt her husband, assumed dead, has left behind; a Pentecostal preacher brazenly uses his church to fund his own bootlegging operation even as he lectures against the perils of drink; and across the river, a French-Canadian woman runs her booming brothel business with the permission of the powerful Detroit gangsters who are her patrons.

The looming background to this extraordinary story, as compelling as any character, is the city of Detroit–a place of grand dreams and brutal realities in 1927 as it is today, fuelled by capitalist expansion and by the collapse that follows, sitting on the border between countries, its citizens walking precariously across the river between pleasure and abstinence. This is an absolutely stunning, mature, and compulsively readable novel from one of our most talented and unique writers.



Barbara Gowdy, Little Sister, May 23

Thunderstorms are rolling across the summer sky. Every time one breaks, Rose Bowan loses consciousness and has vivid, realistic dreams about being in another woman’s body.

Is Rose merely dreaming? Or is she, in fact, inhabiting a stranger? Disturbed yet entranced, she sets out to discover what is happening to her. Meanwhile her mother is in the early stages of dementia, and has begun to speak for the first time in decades about Rose’s sister, Ava, who died young.

In Barbara Gowdy’s latest novel, one woman fights to help someone she has never met, and to come to terms with a death for which she always felt responsible. The result is an impassioned exploration of the limits of the human mind, the devastating power of empathy, and the fierce bonds of motherhood and sisterhood.



Paula Hawkins, Into the Water, May 2

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.

With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.

Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.

You may have noticed that this list only contains novels set to be published between January and May of 2017, that’s because most places only have those titles available.  But, if you’re lucky, and if unlike last year I actually remember to do this, I’ll be writing a part two to this article in the Spring to talk about all the books I can’t wait to read in the second half of 2017.

Happy reading!

The Girl on the Train

Title: The Girl on the Train

Author: Paula Hawkins

Publisher: Double Day

Release Date: January 2015

Source: Amazon

Rating: 4.5/5

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night.  Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck.  She’s even started to feel like she knows them.  Jess and Jason, she calls them.  Their life — as she sees it — is perfect.  Not unlike the one she recently lost. (Goodreads)

When Megan, the woman in that house, goes missing, Rachel takes it upon herself to tell the police what she has seen during her commutes into London.  As an alcoholic whose drinking causes blackouts and memory loss, she becomes an unreliable witness and narrator.  But are her claims really all that dubious?

Paula Hawkins masterfully writes a suspenseful thriller told through the intertwined narratives of three women, each of them just as unreliable as the next.  And despite the number of narrators in this novel, we discover each of their histories and how they all link together on Blenheim Road.  Furthermore, Hawkins has a real talent for timing.  The novel lulls just when I thought I had it figured out, then suddenly she surprises with a new revelation, making it even more difficult to fit the pieces of this strange and mysterious puzzle together.

Every character in this novel is horrible.  They are liars, cheaters, secretive, scheming, abusive, and yet the novel makes a great case study in character development.  Reading the story through the eyes of each character and seeing them through the eyes of the other narrators gave me a whole new perspective on their character, their reasoning, and their problems.  I gained a new, different sense of understanding.  I began to see, and at times, empathize, with the reasoning behind their actions no matter how wrong or troubling they may have been.

This was a real page turner.  I read it mostly during my own train commuting and I would be lost in the mystery of pages before me for hours at a time, distracted only by my own nervousness of missing my stop.  My only set back while reading this novel, however, was that I sometimes became confused with whose perspective I was reading.  But I seem to do that whenever I read multiple-narrative novels, so it might just be me.

I highly recommend this to anyone in need of a good psychological thriller, because Paula Hawkins delivers in The Girl on the Train.  Literally seconds after reading the last pages of the novel, I gave it to my friend to read — that’s how much I loved it.


Happy 452nd Birthday, Shakespeare!

William Shakespeare, possibly the most renowned writer and poet in the world, is 452 years young today. Could you imagine what he’d be like today if he were still alive? How do you think he’d adapt in this ever-changing world? Do you think he’d write on a tablet or stick with the ol’ quill?

We can thank Shakespeare for adding over 1700 words to the English vocabulary. If you think making up a new word is difficult, try and do what Shakespeare did. He turned nouns into verbs, verbs into adjectives, separating words into two, and he even took two separate words and jammed them together to make a new one. What’s even better, however, are the phrases and idioms that Shakespeare created into being.  So, to celebrate Willy Shakes’ 400th birthday, let’s take a look at some of my favourites:


“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”

  • What matters is what something is, not what it is called.

Juliet: ‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself. (Romeo and Juliet 2.2.42-53)

“Beast with two backs”

  • Partners engaged in sexual intercourse.

Iago: I am one, sir, that comes to tell you your daughter

and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs. (Othello 1.1.115-117)

“It was Greek to me”

  • It was unintelligible to me.

Cassius: Did Cicero say any thing?
Casca: Ay, he spoke Greek.
Cassius: To what effect?
Casca: Nay, an I tell you that, Ill ne’er look you i’ the
face again: but those that understood him smiled at
one another and shook their heads; but, for mine own
part, it was Greek to me. I could tell you more
news too: Marullus and Flavius, for pulling scarfs
off Caesar’s images, are put to silence. Fare you
well. There was more foolery yet, if I could
remember it. (Julius Caesar 1.2.275-284)

“Fancy free”

  • Without any ties or commitments.

Oberon: That very time I saw, but thou couldst not,
Flying between the cold moon and the earth,
Cupid all arm’d: a certain aim he took
At a fair vestal throned by the west,
And loosed his love-shaft smartly from his bow,
As it should pierce a hundred thousand hearts;
But I might see young Cupid’s fiery shaft
Quench’d in the chaste beams of the watery moon,
And the imperial votaress passed on,
In maiden meditation, fancy-free. (A Midsummer Nights Dream 2.1.155-164)

“Green-eyed monster”

  • Jealousy.

Portia: How all the other passions fleet to air,
As doubtful thoughts, and rash-embraced despair,
And shuddering fear, and green-eyed jealousy! O love,
Be moderate; allay thy ecstasy,
In measure rein thy joy; scant this excess.
I feel too much thy blessing: make it less,
For fear I surfeit. (The Merchant of Venice 3.2.1475-1481)

“In a pickle”

  • In a quandary or some other difficult position.

Alonso: And Trinculo is reeling ripe: where should they
Find this grand liquor that hath gilded ’em?
How camest thou in this pickle?

Trinculo: I have been in such a pickle since I
saw you last that, I fear me, will never out of
my bones: I shall not fear fly-blowing. (The Tempest 5.1.2354-2359)

“No more cakes and ale?”

  • Cakes and ale are synonymous with the good life.

Sir Toby Belch: Out o’ tune, sir: ye lie. Art any more than a steward? Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale? (Twelfth Night 2.3.58-59)

“To be, or not to be”

  • Is it better to live or to die?

Hamlet: To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? (Hamlet 3.1.1749-1735)

There are too many phrases to choose from, but these were just a few of my favourite.  What’s your favourite Shakespearean idiom or phrase?  If it’s not on the list above, let me know about it in the comments below.


Most Anticipated Reads of 2016 – I

I know I’m a little late, but like any book-lover, I’m a sucker for a good book.  As you might have seen from Goodreads and other fantastic websites, 2016 looks to be a promising year for literature.  Here’s a shortlisted pick of my six most anticipated novels from January until June 2016 — and if you think I missed out on a great piece of literature, let me know in the comments.

* * *


25817032Girl Through Glass by Sari Wilson

In the roiling summer of 1977, eleven-year-old Mira is an aspring ballerina in the romantic, highly competitive world of New York City ballet.  Enduring the mess of her parent’s divorce, she finds escape in dance — the rigorous hours of practice, the exquisite beauty, the precision of movement, the obsessive perfectionism.  Ballet offers her control, power, and the promise of glory.  It also introduces her to forty-seven-year-old Maurice DuPont, a reclusive, charismatic balletomane who becomes her mentor.

(from HarperCollins)

On sale: January 26, 2016

Also anticipated for January: The Stargazer’s Sister by Carrie Brown, Unspeakable Things by Kathleen Spivak, What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell, The Unfinished World by Amber Sparks, and And Again by Jessica Ciarella.

* * *



The Lost Time Accidents by John Wray

Haunted by a failed love affair and the darkest of family secrets, Waldemar ‘Waldy’ Tolliver wakes one morning to discover that he has been exiled from the flow of time. The world continues to turn, and Waldy is desperate to find his way back-a journey that forces him to reckon not only with the betrayal at the heart of his doomed romance but also the legacy of his great-grandfather’s fatal pursuit of the hidden nature of time itself.

(from Macmillan)

On sale: February 9, 2016

Also anticipated for February: Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee, Wreck and Order by Hannah Tennant-Moore, She Weeps Each Time You’re Born by Quan Barry, and Black Deutschland by Darryl Pinckney.

* * *



The Jazz Palace by Mary Morris

One night he is asked to sit in with a group. His playing is first-rate. The trumpeter, a black man named Napoleon, becomes Benny’s friend and musical collaborator. A saloon owner, Pearl Chimbrova, hires the duo to play at her saloon, which Napoleon christens The Jazz Palace. But Napoleon’s main gig is at a mob establishment, which doesn’t take kindly to their musicians freelancing . . . As Benny, Napoleon, and Pearl navigate the highs and the lows of the Jazz Age, a bond is forged among them that is as memorable as it is lasting.

(from Knopf Doubleday)

On sale: March 8, 2016

Also anticipated for March: The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, Hold Still by Lynn Steger Strong, and Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton.

* * *


710160Z+dZL.jpgHystopia by David Means

At the bitter end of the 1960s, after surviving multiple assassination attempts, President John F. Kennedy has created a vast federal agency, the Psych Corps, dedicated to maintaining the nation’s mental hygiene by any means necessary. Soldiers returning from Vietnam have their battlefield traumas “enfolded”–wiped from their memories through drugs and therapy–while veterans too damaged to be enfolded roam at will in Michigan, evading the Psych Corps and reenacting atrocities on civilians.

(from Macmillian)

On sale: April 19, 2016

Also anticipated for April: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel, Now and Again by Charlotte Rogan, and Letters to Kevin by Stephen Dixon.

* * *


9781101875773Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe

Lucas and Katya were boarding school seniors when, blindingly in love, they decided to have a baby. Seventeen years later, after years of absence, Lucas is a weekend dad, newly involved in his daughter Vera’s life. But after Vera suffers a terrifying psychotic break at a high school party, Lucas takes her to Lithuania, his grandmother’s homeland, for the summer. Here, in the city of Vilnius, Lucas hopes to save Vera from the sorrow of her diagnosis. As he uncovers a secret about his grandmother, a Home Army rebel who escaped Stutthof, Vera searches for answers of her own. Why did Lucas abandon her as a baby? What really happened the night of her breakdown? And who can she trust with the truth? Skillfully weaving family mythology and Lithuanian history with a story of mental illness, inheritance, young love, and adventure, Rufi Thorpe has written a wildly accomplished, stunningly emotional book.

(from Penguin Random House)

On sale: May 24, 2016)

Also anticipated for May: The Fox was Ever the Hunter by Herta Müller, Modern Lovers by Emma Straub, and Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett.

* * *


51vC4CP0F3L.jpgThe Girls by Emma Cline

Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.

(from Penguin Random House)

Also anticipated for June: Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter, Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler, and They May Not Mean To, But They Do by Cathleen Schine.