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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
There is so much one can do on the computer, from surfing the net to chatting with friends you’ve never met, and so much more. It’s scary, really. And then there’s the growing unease around cyberbullying. Bullies have existed since the beginning of time, but now online they can become virtually invisible. Nevertheless, cyberbullies can still hurt. Deeply. Caitlyn is a popular high school student. She has lots of cyber friends. But are they her friends? She starts to question herself when she receives a nasty message from an unknown person. Then, her brother’s friend reaches out for help to erase a bully online nuisance. And another schoolmate tries to befriend her, but she pushes back, not wanting to accept this person into her inner circle. And then there’s her brother Marshall, who’s dreading the start of Middle School and not being popular. It’s difficult for Caitlyn to comprehend since she is so popular (or, at least, she believes she is), but she loves her brother and she tries to give him some sisterly advice. But is it enough? Is she really listening?
Coleen Liebsch's coming of age novel, Invisible Victim, is a powerful look at the disturbing and growing trends of cyberbullying and how it scars those inflicted. The two main characters, siblings Caitlyn and Marshall, are at two ends of the popularity spectrum, but each is just as reachable and affected by cyberbullies, only one remains silent while the other lashes back. The plot develops as Caitlyn explores the possibility that what the cyberbully says is really true, absentmindedly taking marginal time to listen to her younger brother. As the plot reaches its climax, the reader is sure that Caitlyn will discover who’s bullying her. Little does the reader know that there is another hidden agenda in the resolution that follows. The language and dialogue are typical of teenagers in this era; the issue of cyberbullying and the dangers that lurk online are clearly outlined; the entire plot is believable as well as being disturbingly unexpected. And the message is clear: we must be careful online and listen to those around us – really listen because sometimes their pain is deeper than we thought.