Every parent wonders if they truly know their own child.  I like to think I do, but I’m sure as mine grow up, there will be less and less I actually “know.”

HCHyacinth Girls follows one parent’s struggle to figure out the truth about a bullying situation her daughter is involved in.  Could the sweet, naive girl she raised actually be the tormentor?    Examining complex tween relationships (and revealing quite a bit of unnerving truth), the tale itself is full of unexpected twists.

I must admit, I was skeptical upon reading the first few pages, which begins with the parent’s thoughts AFTER the basis of the story has taken place.  I thought I knew what had happened, so of course I had to flip to the end to see if it was even worth my time to read.  When I was wrong, I figured there must be more to the story and HAD to continue reading to solve the mystery.

The characters themselves were a little dull–Rebecca, the parent, didn’t seem very realistic to me.  She was not dynamic, and her responses were easy to predict.  Callie, the 13 year old girl, is predictable in her unpredictability.  She is a teenager.  You know it can’t be a simple labeling of “bully” and “tormentor.”  What will keep you interested, however, is just how realistic the relationships between the teenagers can be.  It is a little scary, but definitely a must read for anyone interacting with teens.

“Bullying” has become yet another buzz word–something everyone either pretends to talk about (“let’s sign an anti-bullying poster–that will fix the problem!”) or avoids at all costs because kids just need to “toughen up.”  The truth is, bullying does not have to be blatant–it is not always physical, nor is it always apparent to outsiders.  Relationships are fickle, and interactions between individuals can have very different effects in different circumstances.   The book does a good job showing how reactions to bullying can vary.