Danielle Ferriola reviews The Breaking Point by Catrina Wolfe

breakingpoint

Unable to escape the incessant bullying Jodi faces at school and online, she feels taking her life is the only way out. Jodi’s mother finds her in the nick of time but the damage is already done. The color that once illuminated Jodi is now a seemingly permanent gray. Jodi’s parents decide moving to a new town would be best for Jodi. Their real estate agent, Amy, takes a particular interest in Jodi’s condition and is determined to help her find happiness again. Amy convinces her wife Carsen to spend time with Jodi once a week and share her experiences growing up as she was too a target of bullying at school.

There are a number of themes and unfortunate realities throughout Catrina Wolfe’s The Breaking Point that many children and teenagers who identify as non-heterosexual encounter in their daily lives. Carsen was a foster child and often feared that her foster parents would kick her out if they discovered she is a lesbian. For many foster children who have lived in numerous homes and struggled with feeling loved, being LGBTQ on top of the constant instability of the home environment can be difficult to manage. Carsen was lucky to have supportive teachers, coaches, and a principal at her high school so the bullies were appropriately reprimanded. Unfortunately, not all schools have staff that intervenes in bullying situations. In Jodi’s case, she did not feel comfortable approaching the principal as he did nothing in the past to protect her against the abusive behavior of her peers. Schools are supposed to be safe environments for children to learn and thrive. Since the rise of social media, people are now taking their insulting words and actions to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. There is no place to flee from harassment. Reading The Breaking Point is an important reminder to academic institutions to include discussions about diverse sexual orientation in their lessons to children. By ignoring LGBT lifestyles, teachers (whether intentional or not) reinforce the notion that anyone other than straight is not normal. A lot of bullying could be prevented if schools took a proactive stance in educating students that there is more than one way to love.

I love that Wolfe alternated narratives between Jodi, Carsen, and Amy.  I appreciate seeing how each character perceives a situation to be and how they are affected by one another’s stories. There is a bond that developed between Carsen and Jodi that proved to be a strong factor in Jodi’s recovery. I found myself in tears at the end of book, as Jodi ultimately carried through with her plans. The Breaking Point is an emotional read that is relevant to anyone who is having or had a difficult time growing up. No one should ever be subjected to such awful bullying and feel like there is no one that cares about them. I encourage anyone who reads this and is having suicidal thoughts or knows someone who might be struggling to reach out to friends, family, teachers, or suicide prevention hotlines (List of hotlines around the world: http://www.suicide.org/international-suicide-hotlines.html).  Everyone’s life is worth it.

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