February 23, 2013

Review: Empty by K.M. Walton

Dell is used to disappointment. Ever since her dad left, it’s been one let down after another. But no one—not even her best friend—gets all the pain she’s going through. So Dell hides behind self-deprecating jokes and forced smiles.

Then the one person she trusts betrays her. Dell is beyond devastated. Without anyone to turn to for comfort, her depression and self-loathing spin out of control. But just how far will she go to make all of the heartbreak and name-calling stop.
         Life is pointless, desolate, and without hope. This is how Adele, or Dell, the main character of Empty by K.M. Walton, feels. Unfortunately, this is exactly how the reader will feel by the end of the book too. Dell is 273 pounds, has only one friend and lives a miserable existence. Her father deserted Dell and her mom when Dell's mom was pregnant with Baby Meggie and had become an absent and dead-beat dad who demands that Dell get over her grief and 'feel happy for him'. Dell's mom works two cashier jobs until she is fired from one of them for stealing prescription drugs. She needs pills to get through each day leaving Dell to raise Baby Meggie by herself.
The selfish actions and demands of Dell's parents causes Dell to begin binge eating. She is asked to leave the softball team when she can no longer run without great difficulty. The popular kids at her school make her perform a sumo-moo cow routine. Her best friend is starting to abandon her for the popular crowd, Dell is raped by her long-time crush at a party and then is called the rapist. Finally, FINALLY, however, Dell gets a break. She is accepted at talent night as a singer because of her amazing vocal performance.
Her talent night singing should have brought her applause but instead makes the crowd break out into moo'ing. It is at this point that Dell gives up. She had only two positive things in her life: her voice and her baby sister. She realizes that her weight will always prevent her from being taken seriously as a singer. Her sweet baby sister, who loves her unconditionally, will eventually make fun of her too. Our last contact with Dell is as she lies on stage thinking about her sweet baby sister's smell--she smells of love.
I won't spoil the ending although I'm sure you can guess where it leads. I CAN tell you that it is immensely disappointing. Two stars for this book. Walton writes in a blurb at the end of the story that she wants people to understand how bullied kids feel. She also wants bullied teens to know that there are options. She missed the mark with this story. Instead of educating and empowering teens on the dangers of being bullied, it offers loss of hope, a blanket of blackness and misery. Walton does an excellent job of getting into Dell's head and, for this, I'd love to upgrade her a couple of stars. The plot, however, was simply too bleak for me and, in my opinion, any impressionable teenager.
Publisher-Simon Pulse
Reviewer Rating: 2 Stars
Reviewed by~Cindi
Thank you to the publisher for the donation of this book to the Read for your Future book program in exchange for an honest review.

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  1. oh WOW.. that is NOT a book that I would want to read because I do not need any depressing thoughts in my life.. that is so sad.. my heart broke reading your review. Sometimes I just DONT UNDERSTAND bullies.. do they not have a conscious? I feel really sorry for Dell but at the same time I also don't get her for not trying to lose the weight and be a better version of herself (not that her current version should make her the target of such hate and bullying).. This is a sad book that I am willing to skip over though..

    great review,
    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

  2. Thanks Juhina!! I was very unhappy with the book because I let my 15 year old read it and she came to me crying when she was done. She suffers from depression and has been bullied at school. This book made her feel that everything IS hopeless. We have to be very careful how we treat our children, especially those who suffer from mental illnesses. You have a really kind heart!! I have a feeling you are the kind of person who sticks up for others:)

  3. Yikes! Certainly a book to make you think. But I agree with you -- instead of ending in a hopeless way, the author had the opportunity to share some encouragement or SOMETHING!

    I'll have to keep this in mind when I write -- it's great to get in a character's head and point out the hardness of life, but I think it's even more important to be able to connect the readers to something that can help them.

    Thanks for an honest review!


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