Book review: Choke by Diana Lopez

I just finished a very well written novel with a sobering message about a dangerous risky behavior. It also is about self-discovery and cats.

Windy is in eight grade. As she’s starting high school soon she feels pressure to know what she wants to do. To have a boyfriend and be cooler. Her best friend Elina is seeming more and more imature as she hangs on to childhish things and makes up silly words for fun.

Meanwhile there are changes at home as her Dad is seeking a new job and seems to be changing his appearance to fit. With pressure on all sides the only thing that keeps her sane is her cats, especially a new one that she has to hide from her mom because mom said no more cats.

Things completely change when Nina comes to school. It’s said she was kicked out of her last school but this makes her right off cooler than others there. When the popular girls bully Elina and Windy Nina stands up for them. After their first or second conversation Nina introduces the concept of “breath sisters.” Windy doesn’t know what this means but think it sounds like BFFS but better.

Shortly thereafter Windy and Nina head to the mall. It’s here that Nina explains about the choking game. This is a thrill seeking stunt where you choke yourself or another person. The point is to deprive your brain of oxygen so you pass out and then get a head rush. It sounds horrible put like that and it is! People have died or gotten seriously hurt. But of course Nina puts another spin on it. She says the game is about trusting yourself and each other. The person only chokes you until you tap their arm and then they stop. She says there’s nothing wrong with it because it’s not like drugs or alcohol.

Reluctantly Windy plays the game. She doesn’t pass out she just can’t ya know go without air for that long. She really doesn’t see what the fuss is about. Except having played the game gives her a new cool girl status that she does like. In the back of her mind throughout the book she questions the safety of this “game” she sees others playing it she luckily only plays twice.

The book alternates her friendship with Nina with her search for something she’s passionate about. The ending is upsetting but also hopeful.

The main message is how disturbing the choking game is. Before reading this book I never heard of this. I looked on youtube and there are news stories about it. And a lifetime movie.

I hope none of my followers are playing this game. If you know someone who is playing please tell them to stop or tell an adult. They’ll probably hate you but you’d rather have your friend mad then dead or like Nina (read to find out what happened to her)

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