Bad Apple

Bad Apple

4.3 11
by Laura Ruby
     
 

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"If I really wanted to open up, I'd confess that I really am the liar everyone believes I am."

High-school junior Tola Riley has green hair, a nose ring, an attitude problem, and a fondness for fairy tales, which are a great escape from real life. Everyone thinks she's crazy; everyone says so. Everyone except Mr. Mymer, her art teacher. He gets her paintings and

Overview

"If I really wanted to open up, I'd confess that I really am the liar everyone believes I am."

High-school junior Tola Riley has green hair, a nose ring, an attitude problem, and a fondness for fairy tales, which are a great escape from real life. Everyone thinks she's crazy; everyone says so. Everyone except Mr. Mymer, her art teacher. He gets her paintings and lets her hang out in the art room during lonely lunch periods.

But then rumors start flying and Tola is suddenly the center of a scandal. The whole town is judging her—even her family. When Mr. Mymer is suspended for what everyone thinks is an affair, she has no choice but to break her silence. Fairy tales won't help her this time . . . so how can she tell the truth? And, more importantly, will anyone believe her?

Editorial Reviews

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“There’s wit and cleverness as well as sympathy in both the writing and in the touches of fairy–tale allusion. This is both an absorbing read and a thought–provoking one.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"There’s wit and cleverness as well as sympathy in both the writing and in the touches of fairy–tale allusion. This is both an absorbing read and a thought–provoking one."
The Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books
“There’s wit and cleverness as well as sympathy in both the writing and in the touches of fairytale allusion. This is both an absorbing read and a thoughtprovoking one.”
Publishers Weekly
Tola insists that nothing happened with her art teacher, but nobody seems to believe the high school junior, from her mother (who insists Mr. Mymer “took advantage of my daughter, a vulnerable young girl”) to the vicious readers of a gossip blog called “The Truth About Tola Riley.” Their collective disbelief leaves Tola wondering, “Am I so small, so insignificant that my own story doesn't need me anymore?” Readers will feel like Tola is hiding something, however, and will quickly become engrossed in piecing together what really happened. Ruby (Play Me) parcels out her story slowly, as Tola documents her relationship with Mr. Mymer, who has been suspended from teaching, as well as her family's mounting problems. To fill in details, chapters end with “comments” from other characters, from her mostly absent father to a former friend who uses the Web to spread pain. Readers will likely find the fairy tales Tola is obsessed with to be a clunky device, especially as the book reaches its conclusion; otherwise this is a creatively constructed story with a modern-day scandal layered on top of more traditional teen troubles. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Elizabeth D. Schafer
Tola Riley fights allegations that she slept with her high school art teacher, Mr. Mymer in this story, shaped by the Cinderella motif. Formally named Cenerentola (a Cinderella variant), Tola embraces Grimm's fairy tales. Yet, Tola is an anomaly. She delights in her eccentricities, dyeing her hair green and resisting peer pressure to conform. Angry at her divorced parents, older sister, and stepmother, Tola seethes about injustices. The depth of her emotions is made clear in first-person chapters, which alternate with sections voicing other characters' perspectives. Tola provides details about her past and friendships with classmates, including June Leon and Chelsea Patrick, who has become a malicious enemy. Tola's sarcastic, often bittersweet, comments reveal her vulnerabilities as she endures shallow classmates, incompetent administrators, and annoying reporters who harass her and misinterpret her actions. Her artistic sensibilities suffer when critical substitute teachers cannot comprehend Tola's creativity while praising artwork Tola considers pedestrian. Tola narrates the absurdities of high school, such as concocting unappetizing mayonnaise recipes for cooking class, kidnapping a fetal pig from her science laboratory, and observing the inanities of a school board meeting where she defends Mr. Mymer. Tola's relationship with her grandparents and reaction to her grandfather's hospitalization show character development as she realizes how to deal with tormentors, acknowledge truth, and regain credibility. Characters' technological prowess with smart phones, text messaging, and blogs advances the plot. Pair with Priscilla Cummings's What Mr. Mattero Did (2005). Reviewer:Elizabeth D. Schafer
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—As in Good Girls (HarperTempest, 2006), Ruby explores how technology affects the high school social landscape. When the story starts, green-haired artist Tola Riley has already been falsely accused of an illicit involvement with her art teacher. Mr. Mymer is out of school pending an investigation, and rumors are circulating among classmates, particularly at an anonymously administered Web site called thetruthabouttolariley.com. Comments by classmates, school administrators, and family members appear after each chapter, giving readers a diverse set of perspectives on Tola's situation. The teen is an unusual and likable narrator. She is sarcastic and frustrated with her environment without seeming overly downcast or self-absorbed, and her passion for art and fairy tales is genuine and appealing. Her harried mother, patient grandparents, and emotionally unstable sister are equally well drawn. Seven, her romantic interest (who also likes fairy tales and slipping cupcakes into Tola's locker), is a bit too perfect and too flat to be believed. The villain emerges as one of the most compelling characters; it is clear from her blog comments that she enjoys exploiting the perceived insecurities of strangers, and that her spreading rumors is as much about relishing chaos as it is about hurting her former friend. Tola's friendships, family situation, status at school, and understanding of the truth all change in subtle but appreciable ways over the course of the novel. Artists, compassionate teens, and readers who enjoyed Good Girls will laugh, hurt, and roll their eyes along with this witty individualist of a heroine and her friends and supporters.—Megan Honig, New York PublicLibrary
Kirkus Reviews
The student denies it. The teacher denies it. Nonetheless, it seems that everyone in Tola Riley's high school believes that she is carrying on with her art instructor, Mr. Mymer. And now, Mr. Mymer has been suspended, and Tola, a junior, doesn't know how to stop the rumors that are traveling through the hallways by day and in cyberspace after hours. It's a provocative premise, and the story, which is by turns hilarious and touching, is almost heart-poundingly suspenseful, but the ending is difficult to buy, though emotionally satisfying. It's too bad, too, that Tola's schoolmates are so underdeveloped that they aren't realistic. On the other hand, Tola's family, a dysfunctional bunch coping with Tola's situation, a remarriage and both physical and mental illness, are a sharply drawn, psychologically astute group. It's as though Ruby drew her plot from the basket marked School and her characterizations from the one marked Family. Nonetheless, the protagonist, who is unconventional, insightful and full of angst, charms, and readers will be hoping for her success. (Fiction. 12 & up)
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)
“There’s wit and cleverness as well as sympathy in both the writing and in the touches of fairy–tale allusion. This is both an absorbing read and a thought–provoking one.”
Libba Bray
Praise for Good Girls: “Harrowing, honest and wickedly funny.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
Praise for Play Me: “Guy lit with a brain and a heart, this has plenty to offer both romantics and cynics about love, film, and transformation.”
Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) (Starred Review)
“A frank, realistic portrayal of teen life.”
Financial Times
“Pervaded by melancholy, witty, frank about sex, at pains not to indulge in stereotyping, GOOD GIRLS will undoubtedly appeal to readers made savvy about the otherworld of American school life.”
The Horn Book
“Ruby’s novel has plenty to distinguish it. Tola is one of a kind—a creative artist with a distinct worldview.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (starred review)
“There’s wit and cleverness as well as sympathy in both the writing and in the touches of fairy–tale allusion. This is both an absorbing read and a thought–provoking one.”
Booklist
“A clever, sardonic character study. Tola and her family are fascinating, quirky-yet-believable, and wholly likable. Visual artists will love this homage to creativity, and teens outside the status quo will find a kindred spirit in plucky Tola.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061243301
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/06/2009
Pages:
247
Sales rank:
1,255,198
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)
Lexile:
HL690L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Laura Ruby is the author of books for adults, teens, and children, including the Edgar-nominated mystery Lily's Ghosts, the 2006 Book Sense Pick Good Girls, and the acclaimed novels Play Me and Bad Apple. She is on the faculty of Hamline University's MFA in writing for children and young adults program and lives in the Chicago area.

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Bad Apple 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Tola Riley is, well, unique to say the least. With her green hair, nose ring, and intense love of art, it is no wonder that she is so misunderstood by her high school peers. There is one person though who just gets her: Mr. Mymer, her art teacher. While some people might not understand this relationship, Tola is fine with it, as she is so used to being misunderstood. When her relationship with Mr. Mymer gets blown out of proportion though, Tola finds herself in the middle of a scandal. Even though she tries to tell everyone the truth, no one will believe her and she continues through the year as an even bigger misfit. On top of this, Tola consistently deals with multiple family problems, friend problems, and of course the day-to-day issues of just being a teenager. I have to say that the author, Laura Ruby, has the teenage personality down to a T. Tola was very real and I had no problem envisioning her as a person. Ms. Ruby did a really good job making the reader feel connected to the characters, playing on the reader's heartstrings and making them truly connect with Tola. However, while I felt that Tola was well-developed, none of the other supporting characters were developed at all. Yes, there were a few minutes where they almost felt real, but then they seemed to fall right back into the pages. The author did create a very interesting plot. It took a different perspective on the whole student-teacher affair, which seems to be a theme that has become very popular in YA books. I also really enjoyed how the plot looked at how one event in a family can affect each member differently. Overall, the storyline was very realistic and I could easily picture this same situation happening in many high schools. I liked this book. The ending was absolutely fabulous, probably the best part of the book, and had me in fits of laughter. I look forward to checking out Laura Ruby's other books and I highly suggest you check out BAD APPLE when you are looking for some very realistic teen fiction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. She is just so saarcastic and funny and i loved what she did with her art at the end
LaneyDC More than 1 year ago
The samole was a pge turner and i want more!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was so intence yet truely confusing. And i cannit wait to read the whole book!
Azjura More than 1 year ago
I purchased this book for hte story line, but kept with it for it's endless stream of sarcasm! Everypage had me cracking a smile in a world that was so melodramtic but filled with irony. While the story is that of a serious nature, you travel this insane journey with a lead character that is so out of sorts within her own life she has to live in a fairytale world of make believe in order to simply cope while the rest of her family flounder around her. I would definately suggest this book to anyone looking for an engaging read and also a light read as the story never really takes itself to seriously.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An amazing story
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Galleysmith More than 1 year ago
Bad Apple was fairly predictable in it's plot in almost all areas with the exception of the most important one - the did she or didn't she reveal. The back and forth of each step down the path to that ultimate revelation was well done. I personally didn't know if the affair happened, at what level and who initiated it until the very bitter end and I appreciated that fact. I liked that we got to see small glimpses of the truth but didn't know that it was. It made that part of the story more intriguing and enjoyable. The different characters were equally interesting. Most particularly I had a strong reaction to the young bully Ruby created in Chelsea Patrick. Scorned after the dissolution of her former friendship with Tola she takes to tormenting her in the hallways,on her blog and just about anywhere she could possibly find. This young woman was spiteful, bitter and it seemed to me one step away from escalating into some form of violence. She also played a significant role in Tola's circumstances (which I will not spoil) with Mr. Mymer that furthered the progression of the story quite significantly. On the other hand, I found the art as therapy angle to be a bit too convenient and sweet, particularly at the end of the book when the grand reveal and resolution was made public. The older woman who took Tola under her wing was a small part of the story but one that ended up glossing over. She was a means to an end but it was an end that was just kind of there. Further, the budding romance between Tola and Seven was cute and added a much needed respite from the drama and dysfunction. Again, this was a small part of the larger whole but one that I appreciated. I also found the quirky neurotic sister who constantly sassed everyone to be fun as well, she brought a slight humor to the events. All in all Bad Apple was a quick and entertaining read one that is safe for later aged pre-teen and teen aged readers interested in stories about high-school dynamics and navigating different types of relationships.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
To anonymous on july 29:)