Fifteen-year-old Polarity Weeks just wants to live a normal life, but with a mother diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, that’s rarely easy. Her life gets exponentially more disastrous when her sixth-period history classmates start ogling a nude picture of her on the Internet. Polarity would never have struck such a shameless pose, but the photo is definitely of her, and she’s at a complete loss to explain its existence.
Child Protective Services yanks her from her home, suspecting her parents. The kids at school mock her, assuming she took it herself. And Ethan, the boy she was really starting to like, backpedals and joins the taunting chorus. Surrounded by disbelief and derision on all sides, Polarity desperately seeks the truth among her friends. Only then does she learn that everyone has dark secrets, and no one’s life is anywhere near normal.
Brenda Vicars explores the hardships of mental illness, adolescence, and bullying in her novel, Polarity in Motion. Covering an array of genres, this book will reach out to multiple audiences. Coupled with the mysterious nature of the plot, the relationships between characters are intriguing and unsteady which add to the believable and realistic narrative.
Polarity Weeks is a girl on the cusp of adolescence as a ninth-grade student, but she's aged with experience. Her mother has been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and is subject to jarring mood swings. Though Polarity understands her mother's condition to the best of her ability, her interactions with her mother often resemble strolling through a mine field. The understanding nature of readers will allow them to immediately connect with Polarity, especially if they have a similar experience with mental illness.
Polarity, though young, is a brave and trustworthy soul. When the nude photograph is displayed in a computer class, readers will have various reactions. My first thought was that Polarity had some sort of mental illness of her own that had yet to be discovered. Other readers may believe that it was a production of Photoshop. Regardless, the openness and goodhearted nature of Polarity will at least have readers leaning toward an innocent ruling. As the book continues, readers will want the mystery solved almost as much as Polarity does herself.
Vicars portrays bullying in an accurate fashion and readers will side with Polarity upon witnessing the mean and hurtful actions that her peers commit. This only strengthens the connection between Polarity and the readers, whether they have been in a similar situation or not. The supporting characters in the novel are divided between those who support Polarity and those who do not, with her mother straddling the fence. The only way to further connect with Polarity would have been for readers to witness the photograph being taken without having knowledge of the fact. Knowing at the beginning that her innocence was not in question could have allowed me to connect with Polarity on a deeper level. I would have felt like fighting with her against the onslaught of disbelief instead of holding back and internally questioning whether I truly thought she was guilty or innocent.
Polarity in Motion begins with the mass sharing of the nude photo of Polarity and follows the investigation of her parents, classmates, and friends. At times the plot moves slowly, as does the investigation to find out the truth. Through the whole ordeal, readers come to know Polarity, her future goals, her family, and her feelings. They also witness her grow from a young girl to a young woman who has strength and confidence in herself and her abilities. Stemming from a negative situation is a real coming of age story that many readers will relate to and learn from. Polarity in Motion tackles some big issues and Vicars takes a chance with the plot's controversial situations, but a story like this can open eyes.
Rating: 4/5 Cups
Meet the Author:
Brenda Vicars has worked in Texas public education for many years. Her jobs have included teaching, serving as a principal, and directing student support programs. For three years, she also taught college English to prison inmates, and outside of her job, she mentors children of incarcerated parents.
She entered education because she felt called to teach, but her students taught her the biggest lesson: the playing field is not even for all kids. Through her work, she became increasingly compelled to bring their unheard voices to the page. The heartbeat of her fiction emanates from the courage and resiliency of her students.
Brenda’s hobbies include reading, woodworking, gardening, and Zumba.