Review: League of Strays by L.B. Schulman
I went into League of Strays rather prejudiced. There has been a lot of controversy concerning this book, as it contains a memorable scene where a guy is abused for being gay by several teens. I got into this book, expecting to be disgusted, to want to throw this book at the wall and never to look at it again.
Let’s preface this review by saying that this wasn’t the case. I am going to spoil the end for a bit though, as I think this is necessary to make my point clear.
When the lonely Charlotte gets a mysterious invitation to join the League of Strays, she feels like she doesn’t have a choice other than joining them. She doesn’t have any friends, and getting back at her bully sounds like a great idea. But the leader of the League of Strays, Kade, might have more in mind than simple comebacks.
Let’s just make this very, very clear. This book does not condone bullying your bullies in any way. You know, that creep Kade? Yes, he is a creep. And in the end he gets what he deserves. He is a bad influence, and even though Charlotte is attracted to him at first, it doesn’t stick. At halfway through, the moment most people stop reading, the moment the gay-bashing occurs, it is also the moment that changes Charlotte’s mind on The League of Strays. Kade is a manipulative bastard, and the League is his playing ground. And in the next half of the book this is highlighted, and Charlotte tries to get out of his grasp.
I do agree however, that this point could have been and maybe should have been made more obvious. Especially during the gay bashing, you do feel Charlotte feels like this is going to far, but she’s not disgusted, she’s not terrified. I’ve seen a real fight once; and this was just a couple of drunks, but it scared so much. Seriously. I grabbed a person I barely knew in a death-grip and didn’t let go until someone broke the guys up. Seeing a guy on the ground getting punched and kicked by a group of other guys should be a traumatic experience; in my opinion it wasn’t traumatic enough for her.
And that’s pretty much how I view this issue most people have with League of Strays. It’s not the message of the book, because it has the right message. It’s the execution that could have been more evident. It’s a very thin line between over-explaining and under-explaining. Reading most reviews, there might be some under-explaining going on here.
But that’s enough about that. I liked this book. It’s a story about growing up, bullying, and coping with parents, infused with a healthy dose of mystery and suspense. I think quite some teens will very much enjoy this book, but it might have to be read under parental vision, just to make sure they don’t get the message wrong.
And I just really liked the Carrie reference.
When Charlotte Brody, a lonely 17-year-old student at a new school, receives an invitation to join The League of Strays, she’s intrigued by the group’s promise of “instant friendship.” The League does provide companionship–and even a love interest–but Charlotte grows increasingly uncomfortable with its sinister mission to seek revenge against the bullies of Kennedy High. When escalating acts of vengeance threaten to hurl her down a path of remorse, Charlotte must choose between her new friends and the direction of a future she’s never fully considered.
- Coming soon!