Shattering Glass

Overview

"Simon Glass was easy to hate. . . . I guess, really we each hated him for a different reason, but we didn't realize it until the day we killed him."

Fat, clumsy Simon Glass is a nerd, a loser who occupies the lowest rung on the high school social ladder. Everyone picks on him—until Rob Haynes shows up. Rob, a transfer student with charisma to spare, immediately becomes the undisputed leader of the senior class. And he has plans for Simon.

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Overview

"Simon Glass was easy to hate. . . . I guess, really we each hated him for a different reason, but we didn't realize it until the day we killed him."

Fat, clumsy Simon Glass is a nerd, a loser who occupies the lowest rung on the high school social ladder. Everyone picks on him—until Rob Haynes shows up. Rob, a transfer student with charisma to spare, immediately becomes the undisputed leader of the senior class. And he has plans for Simon.

Rob enlists the help of his crew—wealthy, intellectual Young, ladies’ man Bob, and sweet, athletic Coop—in a mission: turn sniveling Simon from total freak to would-be prom king. But as Simon rises to the top of the social ranks, he shows a new confidence and a devious side that power-hungry Rob did not anticipate. And when Simon uncovers a dangerous secret, events darken. The result is disquieting, bone-chilling . . . and brutal.

When Rob, the charismatic leader of the senior class, turns the school nerd into Prince Charming, his actions lead to unexpected violence.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
An ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers

An ALA Best Book for Young Adults

A Booklist Top Ten Mystery for Youth

 

"A grimly comic debut novel . . . a surefire hit." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

 

"The pacing is superb, and the story's twists are unexpected and disquieting." —Booklist, starred review

 

"Pulls readers in with an ironic, breezy portrait of sinister high school competitiveness. Deft and extraordinarily accomplished." —Michael Cadnum, National Book Award Finalist for The Book of the Lion

 

"[A] suspenseful, disturbing debut novel . . . the thriller plot and breakneck pacing will keep readers hooked and on the lookout for the author's next book." —Publishers Weekly

 

"An irresistible story. Gail Giles's high school characters play at Pygmalion, but they must answer to Frankenstein." —Edward Bloom, author of Tangerine and Crusader

 

"The plot is fast-paced and compelling and there is power in the brewing violence and shocking end; the language is raw and the behavior is brutal." —School Library Journal

 

"[A] taut and dark drama of murder and cupability that recalls Killing Mr. Griffin . . . a dark and edgy page-turner." —Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books

 

"Shattering Glass is a dark, finely crafted, on-the-money coming-of-age suspense story. From page one, I felt myself being pulled to its grim conclusion by a very fine storyteller. This novel will be around for awhile." —Chris Crutcher, author of Staying Fat for Sarah Brynes and Whale Talk

 

 * A grimly comic debut novel revisits the dark hell of high-school cliques. The ruling posse at BrazosVale High includes the usual suspects; rich, well-connected "Young" Steward; smooth stud "the Bobster" DeMarco; dumb jock "Coop" Cooper; and the exquisitely cool and charismatic alpha male, Rob Haynes. As a demonstration of power, Rob decides to elevate the school outcast, dweeby Simon Glass, to the heights of popularity. While Simon seems pathetically eager for any crumb of attention, he eventually reveals an agenda all his own. As Simon exposes their hidden vulnerabilities, the agents of Rob’s whims explode into shocking violence. While grownups might cavil at the ubiquitous adult cruelty and cluelessness, most teens will nod with recognition at the adolescent characters. Giles skates the fine edge of stereotyping, but manages to give her characters authentic voices; the narrator Young is particularly well realized, with his sardonic wit, his artist’s sensitivity, and his tightly wrapped rage. As much provocateur as victim, Simon subtly goads the reader into compliance with his eventual murder. Even though the denouement is known almost from the outset—Young is sent to prison for the crime—this narrative device actually heightens tension as the reader struggles against its awful inevitability. Most intriguing are the quotes heading each chapter, revealing the perspectives of the characters five years later, and which raise questions of justice, mercy, and individual responsibility. A sure-fire hit for book discussion groups, from a writer to watch. —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

This is a taut and dark drama of murder and culpability that recalls Killing Mr. Griffin. . . . This has many curricular possibilities, but it’ll probably be most satisfying as a dark and edgy page-turner. —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

 

* The tension-filled story's narrator is Young Steward, a member of the cool group run by Rob Haynes, a student who transferred in and immediately took over with a wide-reaching power. Rob manages to transform Simon, the class nerd—and transform his classmates' attitude toward Simon—with the finesse of Svengali. But Simon is not content with his newfound popularity. He begins collecting information about his benefactors, and the secrets he learns about them, especially Rob and his devastating past, come out in a horrifyingly realistic scene in which the boys beat Simon to death. This first novel has flaws. Some of the adults are caricatures, and if you look too closely at the plot, you'll find cracks in places. But the pacing is superb, and the story's twists are unexpected and disquieting. Heading the chapters are the comments of those involved, five years after the event. This conceit extends the story and will keep readers wondering. Fans of Nancy Werlin’s books will appreciate this one; it’s a page-turner. —Booklist, starred review

 

In this suspenseful, disturbing debut novel, a high school clique’s plans to make over a social outcast go tragically awry. Quotes at the opening of each chapter foretell the disaster to come. Thaddeus R. Steward IV, nicknamed "Young," who is an aspiring writer, narrates the tale. As it opens, Rob Haynes, an out-of-state transfer student with good looks and seemingly unshakable confidence, quickly ascends to alpha male, ousting reigning king of popularity, Lance Ansley. But, as Lance puts it, "[Rob] wasn't happy to have it all, he had to make sure I didn't have anything." By contrast, Rob wants to position Simon Glass, a "textbook geek," so that his peers will vote Simon "Class Favorite." Simon appears to go along with the new clothes and haircut, but he has some ideas of his own. When Simon and Young discover a secret about Rob's past, one of them seeks to use it, the other to protect it. Unfortunately, the novel follows so many characters that readers do not get to know any one of them well. Ronna, Young's girlfriend, provides the most insightful commentary; speaking of Rob's plan to transform Simon, she says, "Instead of making Rob more, doesn't it just make all of us... less?" Such probing questions are overshadowed by the novel's larger events and the sheer number of characters. Still, the thriller plot and breakneck pacing will keep readers hooked and on the lookout for this author's next book. —Publishers Weekly

In this dark novel, Simon Glass is a clumsy nerd who learns the horror of high school cliques. Rob, the leader of the shallow group of bullies who entertain themselves at Simon's expense, decides to turn the frog into a prince. There is no altruistic motive for this plan as Rob takes on the role of puppet master and the others offer to help with the transformation. They teach Simon to drive, take him shopping for clothes, and put him on a diet and exercise regimen. The plan goes awry as Simon gains self-confidence, becoming more popular than Rob, and begins some manipulating of his own. Quotes from classmates and adults before each chapter build suspense by foreshadowing a tragedy that is looming. The narrator, Young Stewart, is as caught up in the game as the rest of the group as long as it serves his needs. He enlists Simon's help in hacking into the school's computer system but stands by as his friends club Simon to death with a bat in the school gymnasium. The plot is fast-paced and compelling and there is power in the brewing violence and shocking end; the language is raw and the behavior is brutal. —School Library Journal

 

Publishers Weekly
An out-of-state transfer student ascends to alpha male, and his high school clique's plan to make over a social outcast go tragically awry, in what PW called "a suspenseful, disturbing novel." Ages 12-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT
This is an intriguing and at times painfully real story of the world of boys in a contemporary American high school that should be owned by every high school library. The boys in the novel work to meet the expectations of their parents, their school, their peers and themselves, and they quickly find themselves in far over their heads. One day, the head of the "popular boy" group at school decides to turn Simon Glass, the quintessential pocket protector nerd, into "class favorite," meanwhile dethroning the ever-popular captain of the football team. His friends go along with the ruse, teaching Simon about the ins and outs of high school stardom and showmanship. Soon, however, the boys find that Simon is savvier than he first appeared, and they are in far deeper than they'd ever imagined. This is a captivating story of privilege, belonging and rank in high school, and should be well received by both girls and boys in high school. The author uses the interesting device of including quotes at the beginning of each chapter that foreshadow events at the end. This technique will capture the interest of even the most reluctant reader, because the clues definitely build the suspense and predict the final tragedy. KLIATT Codes: JS*; Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2002, Simon & Schuster, 215p.,
— Sarah Applegate
VOYA
By the end of the first paragraph, readers know that Simon Glass was easy to hate and that eventually he was killed. It takes the rest of the book to find out who killed him and why. Told in the different voices of students, teachers, counselors, and law-enforcement officers, the story unfolds little by little until the explosive climax. The reader soon realizes that the narrator of the story, Young, was one of Simon's classmates and is in prison for killing him, but it does not seem possible given the manner in which Young's character is portrayed. It soon becomes clear that Rob, Young's friend and unofficial group leader, is a master manipulator, pulling the strings of all the characters, influencing their actions to fulfill his master plan. In the early pages of the book, the language used by the students, the way they talk to and refer to each other might not seem authentic. After that initial reaction, though, as the suspense begins to build, readers will find it hard to put down the book. Robert Cormier's recent The Rag and Bone Shop (Delacorte Press, 2001/VOYA October 2001) explores the question of how a person can be influenced to do something that they ordinarily would not do. Although the plots of the two books are dissimilar, Giles's novel is also a chilling portrayal of manipulation leading to tragic consequences. Teens in upper middle school and high school will relate to the characters and, sadly, to some of the events in this book. PLB
— Linda Roberts
From The Critics
Rob, the very popular leader of the senior class, decides for his own enjoyment to transform the not so popular class nerd into Prince Charming. What follows is a series of events that manipulates Rob's friends to carry out his wishes. The reader will soon discover that this novel is not so different from Robert Cormier's famous coming of age book The Chocolate War. The pranks, the sinister accomplishments all carefully constructed by Rob, give the reader the utmost feeling of manipulation — very Archiesque. The problem for Rob, of course, is that all is not going to end as he has planned. His cruel challenges lead to violence and death. A compelling read — one that is somewhat slow in the middle — but one that moves to a tension-filled close. 2002, Roaring Brook Press, 224 pp.,
— John Bushman
Children's Literature
This dark and suspense-filled teen drama introduces us to Simon Glass, who is a world-class school nerd. Rob, Mr. Charisma, is out to turn Simon into Prince Charming by the end of the year. And it looks like he just might pull off the feat. The narrator, Young Steward, has fallen under Rob's spell and finds himself a pawn in Rob's game. Though he feels a personal repulsion toward Simon, Young goes along with Rob's plans, even sacrificing his own girlfriend in the process. What makes this novel fascinating is that the author lets us know at the outset that something tragic is going to result, but keeps us guessing as to the form the tragedy will take. Each chapter is preceded by a quotation from one of the characters that deftly foreshadows oncoming doom. The device works to perfection, catapulting this novel above those in the mainstream. The disturbingly violent yet satisfying climax lives up to the hype. Gail Giles is an author worth watching.
—Christopher Moning
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Gail Giles' debut young adult novel (Millbrook, 2002) makes a searing audio production as read by Scott Brick. His cold, calculating delivery style raises the tension on this already tense story about an in-group of high school seniors led by a true sociopath. Listeners can tell from an early scene involving torture of a laboratory animal that Rob means the most chilling sort of trouble for Simon Glass, class misfit. The story's narrator, Young Steward, a member of the clique, makes clear the grip Rob has on all his friends and focuses on his implacable intention to re-make Simon for purposes of his own. The violent frenzy Rob orchestrates ends in Simon's death after he shows signs of self-confidence that Rob can't allow. With a constant edge in his voice, Brick never lets up as he relates this riveting story. One somewhat problematic factor is the series of quotes from classmates and adults that introduce each chapter. As read, they are sometimes difficult to distinguish from the actual chapter narrative, leading to momentary confusion. The cover includes a list of chapters contained on each side of the tapes, a nice feature for finding a place in the text version. Reminiscent of Lord of the Flies, this is a story with mature themes focusing on the darkest side of human nature but in the most chillingly realistic of modern settings. The compelling writing is enhanced with convincing narration, but its intensity may give pause for thought.-Jane P. Fenn, Corning-Painted Post West High School, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A grimly comic debut novel revisits the dark hell of high-school cliques. The ruling posse at BrazosVale High includes the usual suspects: rich, well-connected "Young" Steward; smooth stud "the Bobster" DeMarco; dumb jock "Coop" Cooper; and the exquisitely cool and charismatic alpha male, Rob Haynes. As a demonstration of power, Rob decides to elevate the school outcast, dweeby Simon Glass, to the heights of popularity. While Simon seems pathetically eager for any crumb of attention, he eventually reveals an agenda all his own. As Simon exposes their hidden vulnerabilities, the agents of Rob's whims explode into shocking violence. While grownups might cavil at the ubiquitous adult cruelty and cluelessness, most teens will nod with recognition at the adolescent characters. Giles skates the fine edge of stereotyping, but manages to give his characters authentic voices; the narrator Young is particularly well realized, with his sardonic wit, his artist's sensitivity, and his tightly wrapped rage. As much provocateur as victim, Simon subtly goads the reader into compliance with his eventual murder. Even though the denouement is known almost from the outset-Young is sent to prison for the crime-this narrative device actually heightens tension as the reader struggles against its awful inevitability. Most intriguing are the quotes heading each chapter, revealing the perspectives of the characters five years later, and which raise questions of justice, mercy, and individual responsibility. A sure-fire hit for book discussion groups, from a writer to watch. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781250060006
  • Publisher: Square Fish
  • Publication date: 1/6/2015
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 240
  • Age range: 12 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

Gail Giles has written many acclaimed YA novels, including Shattering Glass and Dead Girls Don't Write Letters. A native Texan, Gail has lived in Chicago and Alaska. She is now living back in Texas with her husband, two dogs, and three cats.

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