Book Review: Bad Apple

Bad Apple
Published By: HarperTeen
Publication Date: October 2009
Page Count: 256
Source: Library
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary

Bad Apple tells the story of troubled high school student, Tola Riley. She functions on the outskirts of high school society and doesn't seem to really have a niche. The only place she feels valued is in art class. However, her safe haven soon becomes a nightmare when allegations began to swirl throughout the school that she is having an affair with her art teacher. A part of Tola delights at the possibility that someone like her teacher could find her appealing. However, she firmly denies the allegations as does the teacher. Despite this decision, the rumors continue to circulate and Tola realizes that she is no longer in control of the situation. Bad Apple speaks to the destructive power of rumors.

Tola's story is one that many high school students will find appealing because there are so many of them that live on the fringe. High school can be such an awkward place at times. Hopefully, readers can learn from Tola's ordeal. Rumors are not always the best way to gain social standing and they often can have lingering consequences for everyone involved. As a teacher, I am constantly trying to get my students to truly think through the judgments they make about one another. It feels like every day we are having discussions about why rumors can be so painful and why they need to be avoided. I appreciate that the author of this one took the time to really focus on the beast that is high school and how sadly it tends to devour some of its inhabitants.

I really enjoyed Laura Ruby's writing and Tola's voice. She is one of those characters that is laced with a sarcasm and intelligence. You feel for Tola's situation - even when she makes choices you disagree with - and can't help but want her to find happiness in the end. Her flaws make her real and well rounded. Is Tola truly the bad apple that her peers have made her out to be? Or rather is the high school popularity gauntlet the place that harbors rotten fruit? 

One Last Gripe: It always breaks my heart to watch teens suffer without a strong and loving family to provide support - I know its not realistic that every teen will have someone to support them but that doesn't stop me from wishing it were true

My Favorite Thing About This Book: Laura Ruby's writing style

First Sentence: Mr. Mymer, my art teacher, is tall and skinny with floppy hair the color of yams and a peculiar affection for "funny" tshirts: CLUB SANDWICHES, NOT SEALS. YOGA IS FOR POSERS. FULL FRONTAL NERDITY.

Favorite Character: Tola

Least Favorite Character: Chelsea

Junior Tola Riley doesn’t care what people say about her. She knows her ever-changing hair color and goth clothes make her an easy target. Whatever. But the latest rumor is different.... The entire school believes she had an affair with her art teacher. The rumors may be a lie, but the fallout is all too real. Will Tola finally stand up for the truth? 

With a heroine you'll root for and a truly relevant story, Laura Ruby has once again brought the authentic teen experience to life for readers who relish dark humor and razor-sharp wit. 


  1. Tola is an interesting name. I recently was watching a yearbook video about high school not really being the best time of your life like everyone says. The guy said adults must have repressed memories somewhere along the way and made that up to fill the gap:) So true! I have lots of bullying discussions in my classroom as well. It's important they know even a smile with a stranger can go a long way.
    -Jenna @ Fans of Fiction

    1. That is so true. I remember being a teen and thinking if these truly are the best days of my life then I am in big trouble. I was quite pleased to find that my 20's were far more enjoyable than my teens.

  2. never heard of this book,, but will definitely be looking into now.


Post a Comment

We love your comments!