Bully (Fall Away #1)
by Penelope Douglas
My name is Tate. He doesn’t call me that, though. He would never refer to me so informally, if he referred to me at all.
We’re neighbors, and once, we were best friends. But then, one summer, he turned on me and has made it his mission to screw up my life at every opportunity. I’ve been humiliated, shut out, and gossiped about all through high school. His pranks and rumors got more sadistic as time wore on, and I made myself sick trying to hide from him. I worried about what was around every corner and behind every door.
So I left.
I spent a year studying abroad and bathed in the freedom of life without Jared. Now I’m back to finish up high school and get the hell out of here forever. I’m hoping that after a year of breathing room, he’s moved on and forgotten all about me.
But even if he hasn’t changed, I have. I’m not interested in avoiding him or turning the other cheek anymore. We’re going to go head to head, because neither of us wants to back down.
Tate is on the eve of her senior year in high school. She has just returned from year away in France as an exchange student. She should be enjoying the best year of her life. And she would be, if she wasn’t being bullied by the boy next door.
Jared was Tatum’s best friend. The grew up next door to each other and did everything together. On the summer of his fourteenth year, everything changed. He was no longer the fun loving guy that Tate knew. Suddenly he turned into his worst nightmare. He and his friends began teasing her relentlessly.
Tatum took the merciless teasing and kept her head down. She became afraid of them and looked around every corner. She became somewhat of a social outcast.
Before she left for France she made a vow that she would no longer sit back and take it. When she came back things would be different. Tate is no longer going to take shit from Jared and she sets out to take back her life. Game. On.
“This is how bullies are made I thought, but it still felt good to lash out, and I didn’t want to stop.”
Tate soon discovers that there was more behind Jared than she could have ever imagined. And on that fateful summer of his fourteenth year, his life had changed forever. Jared had a reason for the things he did and she must either accept his past and help him through it, or loose the history that they shared together to a miasma of negativity.
Jared grew up without his father. His mother was an alcoholic. He didn’t have a lot to hold onto. He learned early how to fix cars from Tate’s father. So when Jared was sixteen he bought a car and souped it up. He and his friends race at an old farm in town. Jared and Tatum are forced together and the outcome is not at all how she thought it would be.
“Life could be a bitch. I was going to Homecoming with the one person in this school who made my skin crawl, I was getting attention from a gorgeous, star football player that I could care less about, and I was having wet dreams about a potential sociopath who acted like he hated me most of the time.”
Tate makes Jared want to be better, to talk and to heal. She wants him, all of him. Jared could be “the one”, or he could be the one to destroy her.
“Are you mine?” I asked as I wiped my tears. He kissed the corners of my mouth softly, and I felt heat rise up my neck. “Always have been,” he whispered against my mouth.
Jared has a past that won’t let go quite as easily as they had both hoped and Tate ends up caught in the crossfire.
They are forced to confront things that they never wanted to deal with. Tate is completely unprepared. In the end Tate can become the bully she fought against or she can be the bigger person and walk away. But who will she walk away from and will her heart survive?
I really hated Jared in the beginning of this book. He was so cruel. Tate refused to stand up to him and his cronies and just took the abuse. Finally she grew a spine, and I was so happy to see him get a taste of his own medicine. I was still not completely convinced of his reformation by the end of the book.
Having said that, it was well written and for a high school book… it was quite steamy. It felt more like a young adult book rather than a high school romance. I liked Tate and I felt for her. So, I would give this a four star rating. It didn’t knock my socks off, but it was a solid read.