“The Red Sheet” (novel) by Mia Kerick, 4/5 stars
“Be the change that you want to see in the world.”
And before you go Superman on the world, be vulnerable with yourself and ask if you need help–or even saving–first, then do something about it.
This was a nice read and quite funny and adorable even at some points. There’s a part when I also thought if I’d be able to accept myself when Bryan remembered the truth, so that was a good experience as a reader.
Satisfying ending so 👍 (Goodreads review)
What if one morning, you suddenly wake up with a strong urge to put a red sheet around your neck and bring social justice to the world? It’s great, but that would be pretty weird, especially when you’re the total opposite of Superman in real life.
So that’s basically the catch of this little novel. It was a recommended read after “Falling from the Sky” and thankfully, it was pretty easy to find a copy from the generous web.
Frankly, I’m not very keen on the writing style, but I guess as the narrative was from Bryan, the protagonist, the voice was pretty clear as a window to his personality. Nonetheless, I like stories that tackle the sensitive issue of bullying. I think more than anything, this is what the author wanted to address.
There’s plenty of materials to read regarding victims of bullying like in “Speak” by Laurie Halse Andersen, but there’s not much from the bully’s point of view. I guess the aggressor is not always easy to forgive, much less listen to their reasons for their unkind acts. However, it’s always interesting to hear from both sides of a coin, and there’s always some learning from it.
I think the only story I remember that displays life after the bullying for the bully is “Kimi ni Koe” (Your Voice), and then this.
Bryan has no recollection of what happened to him, why he can’t remember the guy he likes, and what happened in a party on a Saturday night. The book had some funny and adorable moments of Bryan just casually going out of the way to help small furry animals from danger, grumpy old people, and demanding smart recycling for the environment even when he’s so puzzled as to why he’s doing it in the first place.
Then there’s the grimmer side to the story which ultimately also reveals why he was in that state in the first place.
That part is actually pretty serious and if I were Bryan, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to forgive myself too, but of course, it works out in the end because he realized that what happened was a way for him to change his life. On a side note, I think I’m still disturbed of that information and I think Scott should have punished Bryan more. It’s that grave for me.
Ghandi’s “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” was heavily used as theme in this story. Bryan acted as a superman who was bringing social change on a cafeteria table while ironing out relationships and doing small acts of kindness on a daily basis because he felt he needed to, but ultimately, by the end of story when he finally remembered why he felt that way in the first place, he understood why he needed to bring change to his world. His “world” doesn’t have to be the world in general with wars, famine, and oppression from the news, but he can start with his immediate “world”: his life as a son, student, and friend to others, then he’s already making change of a the world at large–being kind, making the right choice of making tough decisions.