Saving Pheobe Murrow by Herta Feely

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Saving Pheobe Murrow is a story loosely based on the death of real life teenager Megan Meier, who was bullied to suicide by a former friend and her mother via Myspace. 

Based more around Facebook around 2008, Saving Pheobe Murrow takes you on a heartbreaking journey between a mother and daughter during the most difficult time in the daughter's life.

Pheobe has been bullied before and resorted to cutting to ease her emotional pain. One year later, she's at a new school, with close friends and has made nice with the girl who bullied her the year before. Because of Pheobe's previous year, her mother Isabel worries constantly about her daughter and is fearful that the past is destined to repeat itself, but with dire consequences. Phoebe is an emotional wreck, not being able to control her life, when her mother harshly punishes her for lying about her whereabouts one weekend, and begins to cut again.

Without revealing the entire story, Phoebe's life begins to take a turn for the worst and eventually, when her friend and the friend's mother pretend to be a boy who Pheobe falls for through Facebook, and soon starts to bully her and harass her through this fake profile. This leads to every mother's worst nightmare.

Most who read this book will be able to identify with Isabel, as a mother who just wants the best for their children and doesn't know how to protect them from the harsh realities of the world and the crude actions of others.  However, I felt a strong hatred towards Isabel and actually identify more with Phoebe.

Just like Phoebe, I too turned to cutting to relieve emotional pain and distress. I too had been dealt rather harsh punishments for minor "crimes", one of which was being grounded for a month, with all my possessions taken from me and the privilege of going to a school dance with a boy I liked being taken away. Which is exactly what ends up happening to Phoebe, which makes her turn to cutting again.

Just like Phoebe's mother when she discovered her daughter was cutting again, my mother would notice things, but never said much about it or tried to talk through things.

Isabel, to me, was a terrible character. While I can see small parts where she is genuinely concerned about her daughter and fearful that she is going to lose her, I also see that she is more concerned with her physical appearance and how others see her as a parent, including pretending to be a much better parent than she really is. Isabel also is, in a way, a bully herself. Her relationship with the mother of her daughter's friend is a good example of that. Sandy is rather new in town and she tries desperately to befriend Isabel, but Isabel sees her as not worthy, and often describes her as rather slutty. Sandy reaches out to Isabel for advice on what she should wear to the parent party, and Isabel brushes her off, but later becomes disgusted at what Sandy ends up wearing to the party. This was a good opportunity for her to take Sandy under her wing and advise her on how to fit in with the other parents. Instead, Isabel alienates her and even almost sends her an email after the party, calling her a slut. Isabel's husband has strayed from their marriage before and he has a conversation with Sandy's husband where they both acknowledge that Isabel is quite an unreasonable person to deal with. Isabel is snobby. She's a DC lawyer who's always going on elaborate vacations, getting her nails done, concerned with who she is seen with or trying to befriend the higher ups in the neighborhood. She even gets disgusted that Phoebe shops thrift stores, buys used clothing, and has dreams of becoming a fashion designer.

Isabel blows the whistle on Sandy after a party that Phoebe comes home from, visibly drunk. From there, Sandy and her daughter Jessie -Phoebe's best friend- retaliate by digging at Phoebe until the levy breaks. Isabel's constant snubs and holier than thou attitude is, in my opinion, what started the terrible events.

I was bullied in school, and again as an adult. I know what it's like to try desperately to befriend the more popular kids and be apart of their group. I know what it's like to want to be invited to things and have close friendships. So I know what Sandy must have felt when being snubbed by Isabel. As I mentioned above, I also feel for Phoebe as well. Even as a parent, though, I can't identify with Isabel and actually grew to hate her and blame her for a lot of her daughter's feelings and problems. 

All of that aside, it was a compelling book that I couldn't put down, even when I was frustrated with certain characters. I highly recommend this book, not just as an entertaining read, but also as a look into how important a healthy mother/daughter relationship is and the importance of knowing how your actions affect others. 

Pick up a copy of Saving Phoebe Murrow and if you do, I would love to discuss it with you either in the comments, through email, or on  Facebook!

*Note: I have had some parents mention that they were interested in getting this book for their teens. I do want it to be known that this is intended for more mature audiences as there is some sexual content and strong language.

*Disclosure: This product was received in exchange for an honest, unbiased, review. The reviews and or opinions on this blog are 100% my own. No monitory compensation was received and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsement and Testimonials in Advertising .


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