Bad Apple by Laura Ruby
The struggles of being a teen and the dark side of online slander make this a socially current topic. Tola Riley likes to draw. But sketching her teachers and leaving the drawings on their desk tends to land her in the principal’s office. Her unflattering portraits of the staff might have something to do with that.
Tola’s funny-looking art teacher wears t-shirts with crazy sayings. Skinny, floppy-haired Mr. Mymer is not your average instructor, making him her favorite teacher. He encourages her artwork and best of all, lets her escape the lunch room to come to the art room. But when rumors circulate that something inappropriate has transpired between the two, Tola is under a glaring spotlight and Mr. Mymer is suspended.
She tries to tell her mother and the principal that nothing happened, but no one believes her. Worse, an anonymous website spews horrible things about Tola. Students ridicule her at school, and even worse, Tola’s mother brings harsh accusations against Mymer at a school board meeting.
Tola Riley makes for a most interesting protagonist. The reader can’t help but like her. The presumption of guilt (rather than a presumption of innocence) amps up the conflict. The vicious assault from both adults and teens toward Tola and her teacher reflect the problem of rushing to judgment too quickly. Without giving away any spoilers, the truth ultimately comes out, and it’s nothing the reader will expect.
I highly recommend this novel.