A Ghost Story.
You might assume this is what the book is about. It’s not. Instead, the author uses a ghost story as a device to illustrate the power of the media.

Written by Newberry Award- winning author Joan Bauer, Peeled tells the story of Hildy Biddle, a high school journalist who lives in the fictional town of Banesville, New York. Determined to find an audience through the high school newspaper, she finds herself competing with Pen Piedmont, the editor of the local town newspaper. When Piedmont captures the town’s attention by writing scary articles about the supposedly haunted Ludlow house, Hildy aims at uncovering the truth and exposing Piedmont’s questionable integrity.

The title  is a pun: the town’s main product is apples, hence the peel on the cover. However, it actually derives from Hildy’s goal to “peel away the layers” of the dishonest articles Piedmont writes.

I have to admit that this book contains some clichés: a small town, a predictable romance,  and insecurity about a family death. Also, the character development lacks a bit in places. Fortunately, these issues do not swallow up the story.

This book conveys an important message about the power of the media, using the characters and occurrences as reflections of reality. For example, the influence of Piedmont on the townspeople on a silly little ghost represents how the media can inflate a small dilemma into a seemingly serious problem. It demonstrates how fickle society’s perspectives are and includes important journalism facts most people are unaware of.

Being a journalism student myself, I applaud Bauer for making a significant problem the subject of her book. She has the ability to translate a somewhat complex issue into a plot that’s easily understood.

In conclusion, I believe the overall purpose of this book is to inform people. Instead of believing everything the media says, it’s important to learn the facts yourself. All it takes is a little research and curiosity.

 

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