The victim of a cyber-prank gone viral, Autumn was forced to transfer schools—not exactly what she wanted to do as a sophomore. But what choice did she have when all her personal information was posted all over the web for anyone to see? When threatening comments started to trickle in, the police said her only chance to avoid stalkers was to move schools and start over.
Determined to make the best of her situation, Autumn realized that she had been given an opportunity to reinvent herself; to become the outgoing, popular, not-at-all-shy girl she’d always wanted to be. Something that was impossible while surrounded by lifelong friends who thought they knew her better than she knew herself.
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But even the best plans go awry. As soon as Autumn arrives at her new school, she meets Maurice—a bully of monumental proportions who steps on toes, beats up kids, and generally makes life miserable for everyone. Things seem to be looking up when Autumn learns that her best friend Sophie Rose is transferring to her new school, too—but then Sophie starts keeping her distance from Autumn. Soon, Autumn feels those old, familiar feelings of sadness and inadequacy returning, as she wonders if Sophie Rose felt Autumn was no longer good enough to be her friend.
Bullied at school and online, adrift without the support of her best friend in the murky waters of high school, where one wrong move can earn an unflattering nickname that will stick until graduation, Autumn believes she failed miserably at changing the old habits that had given her that shy girl reputation in the first place. Not only could she not move from reserved to rambunctious, she couldn’t even get to normal.
But when a tragedy shakes Autumn’s world, she stops feeling sad about what happened to her. Now she’s angry—and she’s determined to put a stop to this cyber-torture and bullying of herself and the people she loves in this powerful and poignant novel.
Veronica Tabares had many opportunities to witness the effects of bullying while working as head librarian at a private school. When she realized that modern technology had enhanced the bully’s ability to cause pain—with students seemingly unaware of the true danger of the electronic toys that ruled their days—she designed an anti-bullying curriculum to incorporate into her lessons.
As a librarian, Veronica is aware that young people need a user-friendly way to understand the problem. They need to easily grasp both how a bully works and how to recognize the signs that someone is a bullying victim. Gray Zone was written to give them that knowledge and to open a much-needed dialog.
Veronica has a master of library and information science and a bachelor of arts in anthropology, both from the University of Washington. She also has a master of fine arts in creative writing from Full Sail University.