Ella’s excitement over her acceptance into a prestigious school quickly fades when she has her first run-in with the Crowd. These future politicians and business leaders possess the power to make life miserable for the other students. When Jackson, the Crowd leader, turns his attention to Ella, she wants nothing more than to slip back into anonymity. Only her friendship with Lucas, a boy from another school, gives her any joy. With each new challenge the Crowd tosses her way, Ella reminds herself of her father’s words: be kind. Her mother quotes Eleanor Roosevelt, Ella’s namesake, and Ella strives to live up to those lofty words. But if she’s going to find peace at school, she’ll have to take down the Crowd.
One of the things I liked about this book was how often the people and relationships in Ella’s life turned out to be different than they first seemed. She’d make judgments about the people around her and then have to decide whether or not to shift her expectations as she gained more experience. I thought that was pretty realistically portrayed.
The story kind of follows two separate tracks. On one hand, it’s a romance. On the other, it’s a tale about bullying. Most of the time I thought those two ideas played well with each other, but there were moments where the romance seemed to overshadow the other story elements. Overall, this didn’t lessen the enjoyment for me. I just sometimes forgot that there was more going on than blossoming love.
The faith elements come through naturally, and I enjoyed the way those moments unfolded. I liked how her faith was integrated with the wise voices in her life, like her dad’s reminders to be kind and her mom’s Eleanor Roosevelt quotes.
Overall, I thought this was a sweet, clean story. If you’re looking for a lighter read that still explores issues like bullying, maybe as an alternative to something like Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers, check out The Crowd.
Most of the characters in The Crowd are or appear to be white. Ella becomes friends with a girl named Jayla, who is the only African-American student at their school. Ella’s friend Lucas is described as Latin.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
No profanity. There are a couple of crude comments. For example, one boy makes a comment to another boy about wanting to “bang” a girl.
Kissing. A boy and girl fall asleep on a bed after talking for hours.
Ella’s faith is extremely important to her. She often prays for guidance. She and her aunt study proverbs together and attend church regularly. Ella volunteers to sing in the choir, but becomes discouraged when it feels more like performance than worship.
Kids at school pick on Ella. They do some hurtful things along the lines of ruining her skirt by placing a broken pen in her seat.
Ella learns some town history in which a boy shot two girls before killing himself in a school shooting. Another girl gets shot when a gun accidentally goes off.
Ella hears rumors about Jackson’s wild past involving a lot of drinking. Ella’s dad achieved great success as a musician in a rock band, and he lived a hard party life until becoming a Christian and leaving the band. We don’t learn many details about either Jackson’s rumored past or Ella’s dad’s rock star days. There are no descriptions of alcohol or drug use, just references to the fact that they happened.
Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.