In Kimberly A. Bettes novel Rage, 13-year-old Brian Boozer's life is horrific. His alcoholic step-dad is a child-beater and molester who sucks down the money Brian's double-shift working mother brings home so efficiently that Brian has little in his life to live on. His situation at school is no better, dealing with small pack of sadistic bullies. Save for one girl who gives him the time of day for reasons not entirely clear, Brian is alone to face the world bereft of any adult or child willing to look past the physical and emotional abuse and scars to give him a hand up. Therein lies the positive and negative aspects of this story.
In an effort to show the terrible nature of bullying, along with the ultimate final betrayal, Rage is relentless in its anti-bullying message by any member of society on another. It is a great instructional tool on how one exists and then drowns in a world in which no child should live. Kudos. The effort to show the negativity of bullying, however, provides no inkling as to the means in which readers could/should curtail such situations in their life. One could argue that Bettes doesn't have the responsibility to provide or hint at answers to the bullying dilemma in telling Brian's story, but the abrupt ending made the story feel incomplete, as though no answers exist, and that the people in this story learned nothing, making it a double tragedy. No one grew; no one changed. He is a victim in the beginning, middle, and end. All are villains in the beginning, middle, and end.
The story is well-written. The spiraling downward trail of events believable. It certainly built my rage, including at times towards Brian, who seems well aware of the events unfolding around him, but still backs off taking the baby steps necessary to curtail his personal hell. It's a solid read about a difficult subject matter that some readers may not finish, but should. It is a well done "4."