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Life Unaware by Cole Gibsen
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Life Unaware

by Cole Gibsen

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Life Unaware takes on the world of high school bullying. Regan, our main character, starts out as popular and a bit of a bully, digging up dirt and spreading it in order to insure her spot in the social order. When she becomes the victim of a bully attack, her life is reversed and she is suddenly the outcast.

This story is such a reminder of how vicious high school can be and how much our actions can affect another person, especially bullying. There is such pressure to fit in, to preform a certain way, even to look down on those deemed different. This in no way excuses the acts perpetrated by Regan and others, but it sheds light on why some bullies do what they do. And when Regan herself begins to get bullied, she, and in turn the reader, get to see how actions similar to hers can really affect a person.

"Those bathroom stalls in there? Those are our hearts. Whenever someone says something about us, it gets written inside us, permanently. Sure, you can scribble out the words or try to paint over them, but beneath the layers of paint and ink, they're still there, branded to our cores like initials carved in a tree.
So we're walking around with these scars etched inside us, but no one can see them, so no one knows how bad we're hurting. Meanwhile, people keep talking and writing more words, until every inch of our hearts is covered with venom so black even we can no longer see the good in ourselves. So we start to add our own words, and they're darker than the rest, the scars cutting more deeply than the others ever did....
I realized, too late, all the damage I caused with words I both spoke and typed. Just like bathroom graffiti, those words will be forever written on some people's hearts. They'll walk around for the rest of their lives with scars inflicted by me."
( )
  Kristymk18 | Mar 27, 2016 |
Regan Flay has the perfect life: she is popular, she is pretty, she is smart, she's on the cheerleading squad. But life can change in an instant, and Regan's life gets turned on its head. Regan knows how to play the game to remain popular, and it doesn't involve being nice to anyone. The game involves cutting others down in order to stay on top. And with all of the texts and Facebook posts, Regan's not-so-nice comments are preserved - and available for downloading and distributing. Which is exactly what happens. When Regan arrives at school one day, she doesn't get the usual greetings, and she knows something is going on. And then she sees her texts and posts plastered all over the school. Now, she is hated by all, and even her best friends won't talk to her. As she struggles to regain her footing, the only person who will talk to her is her ex-best friend's brother, another outcast of the school. Soon, Regan and Nolan have a relationship, but that relationship also leads to disaster for Regan. As she finds a new way to survive in high school, she learns some valuable lessons about herself and how to treat others. This is a great book. It really captures the bullying aspects of high school life in today's world. There were a few parts I was able to predict, but maybe that is because I work in a high school, so I see this every day. I liked how the end of the book wasn't all happy-happy, because that is not how life really is. I really feel like every teen needs to read this book to see both sides of bullying: the one from the bully's perspective, as well as the effects on the victims of bullying. ( )
  litgirl29 | Feb 1, 2016 |
3.5 stars
Life Unaware appealed to me because of the bullying issue. I read another where it was from the stand point of the bullier and I did end up feeling for that person. And it sounds like I will end up understanding Regan. From the synopsis she does seem like someone easy to dislike but it also shows the backfire and the pressure that is too much for her from her mom. Not that there is ever any excuse for bullying other people, there are reasons, and sometimes those can be enough to bridge the gap with me reading to understand and hope for change in that person and the way that they treat others.

Sure enough, I discover that Regan has an anxiety disorder, and her mom is a politician who seems concerned with image and public opinion than her daughter's happiness. She puts a lot of pressure and Regan is stretched with grades, cheerleading, volunteering. She is trying to juggle getting on everyone's good side, and that is where the nasty texts come from. She will talk about one person in order to gain their approval. Then she'll suck up to the person the texts were about. It really is fairly typical teen behavior, she is just the one that got caught.

The fallout though is intense. Everyone jumps on the band wagon and ostracizes her. This only compounds her anxiety and she is taking her pills and going to the nurse office really often. As the synopsis mentions, Nolan, another outcast takes a new interest in her. They have chemistry but they also have the like/hate/lust thing going for them. They never really crossed social paths much besides him being the "weirdo" brother of Regan's friend. He talks to her, teases (in good natured way) and I speculated early that he's had a crush on her for a while and just now able to talk to her. Another thought was maybe he understood the pain of being on the outside and he wanted to be there in the way that he knew how.

It comes out that some of the girls who printed the texts and started the cyber portion on facebook were hiding things of their own. They felt like at any moment their secret could be exposed and were afraid of the fall out. Like I said earlier, nothing excuses bullying, but so often there is a lot of pain or insecurity on both sides.

I liked the growth in Regan, when she has to face some of the people her texts targeted. She said she didn't really have anything against it, just writing without thinking and never planned for it to be seen. In apologizing and seeing other's pain, she realizes how she effected others. She didn't want to be an object of fear, and she realized just how much she was faking things.

So I love the idea that Nolan and Regan had in order to get her apology and convey other stuff she'd seen issue with and wanted to try to repair. I also had a pretty good idea before it came out what went on with Nolan and his ex Jordan, but it was an interesting angle, giving him more depth to me as well as the reasoning for being so understanding.

I also liked how the friendship with her and Payton eventually she remembered the kind of person that Regan really was. She needed time to cool off, and reassurances, but I was happy to see that she was big enough to admit she was wrong and stand by her friend.

One of my favorite moments and quotes was when Regan thought "I only hoped that she would get to stop pretending and live her life how she wanted. Each time I forced myself into the mold of what my mother wanted me to be, I felt myself break. If she kept up her act forever, it would only be a matter of time before the broken pieces of her real self were too small to ever be put back together. I didn't know what happened to people when they were unfixable. I only hoped I never had to find out."

Now, most of the book seems pretty realisitic in regards to mental illness, but I did have an issue when she made the "decision" to stop hiding behind the pills, and made them seem all of the sudden not necessary. Now, yes, I will say that with meds like that you can be dependent and use them as a crutch, but there are people and times when you can't just decide, hey I don't need to take my anxiety/ depression/psych meds because that can lead to serious spirals. Just so that is clear, and it didn't when she finally admitted to others besides adults about her anxiety disorder and the panic meds.

The ending managed to get my attention and I liked how things wrapped up. The romance continued to be sweet, but they did have a pretty big challenge to overcome. I also liked how it went down regarding the friendships regained or new ones because of her idea.

Bottom Line: Worthwhile contemporary, giving a new twist on the issue of bullying. ( )
  brandileigh2003 | Feb 4, 2015 |
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Regan Flay is on the cusp of achieving her control-freak mother's "plan" for high school success--cheerleading, student council, the Honor Society--until her life gets turned horribly, horribly upside down. Every bitchy text. Every bitchy email. Every lie, manipulation, and insult she's ever said have been printed out and taped to all the lockers in school. Now Regan has gone from popular princess to total pariah. The only person who even speaks to her is her former best friend's hot but socially miscreant brother, Nolan Letner. Nolan thinks he knows what Regan's going through, but what nobody knows is that Regan isn't really Little Miss Perfect. In fact, she's barely holding it together under her mom's pressure. But the consequences of Regan's fall from grace are only just beginning. Once the chain reaction starts, no one will remain untouched... especially Regan Flay.… (more)

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