Written by Kyle Banker, University of Miami
“The Battle for Innocence” by Stacy Padula is a very helpful resource for teens, as it proves if you stick to your morals, good things will happen. In relation to the main character, Chantal Kagelli, the reader saw her face many challenges in the novel, mostly through her interactions with Andy Rosetti, who is a nice person, but has different religious and social intentions. However, despite the temptations to be with Andy, Chantal stayed loyal to her morals and, in the end, she received her dream scenario: Jon Anderson asking her out. The novel has other examples of how having bad morals can result in bad consequences, so it is important for teens to realize that staying socially, religiously, and academically “good” will result in a bright future.
I think that all teenagers who read “The Battle for Innocence” will benefit from being introduced to the harsh reality of substances: they will negatively affect the user, and it could completely alter their lives. Additionally, for those who hold strong religious beliefs, this novel incorporates a great deal of Bible verses that align ideally to the characters in the novel, such as Chantal and Jon. After seeing that the result of Chantal and Jon’s relationship with God strengthening it into a healthier and happier lifestyle, this same practice could also be applied to all young adults who read “The Battle for Innocence.” Finally, since the novel takes place primarily as a flashback to 7th grade, the book targets middle school or high school students, but could also be realistically read by anyone who wants a thorough and action-packed description of the substance addiction issue at hand.
My favorite character in this story is Chantal because the majority of “The Battle for Innocence” is taken place in her perspective. While the reader also sees through the eyes of characters such as Jon and Chris Dunkin, I feel that Chantal’s perspective is most interesting considering her struggle with maintaining her morals and testing the party scene at Montgomery Lake Middle School. Also, I believe that Chantal’s nice personality and unprovoked kindness makes her a very easy character to like; she can also stand up for herself, which is shown through her persistence to force Andy to take her home after she was intoxicated. At this point in the series, everyone in Montgomery seems to love Chantal for her good nature, which is why she is an amazing character to root for.
I think that the most surprising thing about these characters in the 7th grade is the high presence of alcohol and partying. When I was in the 7th grade, I did not even know what alcohol was, and there were no parties ever thrown in my area that supplied the substance. Yet, for these characters in Montgomery, it seems as if these two factors of life are usual, which is very jarring considering that most (if not everyone) would assume that 7th graders would not be exposed or knowledgeable about alcohol or cigarettes. Additionally, the appearance of sex at these parties and the goal of characters such as Jason and Chris to lose their virginities shocked me. In correlation with substances, sex is also a topic that some feel no middle schoolers should know about, yet at Montgomery Lake Middle School, that is not the case. Overall, while these topics may seem unrealistic for 7th graders, they are definitely a huge possibility in the modern-day.
It is crucial for readers to know the backstory revealed in “The Battle for Innocence” as it gives great insight into the past of Chantal and Cathy and how they developed their reputations. Specifically, Chantal’s history with Andy is important, as it gave the reader important information about how she ended up with Jon. In addition, it is very interesting to see the shy side of Cathy throughout this novel, even though in the present day she is known to be very vocal and a partier. Finally, seeing Chris at the beginning of his substance addiction is also very powerful, considering that he was in a good state academically and athletically on the football team. By seeing these character’s pasts and connecting them to the present day, I find it intriguing to see how their lives can be affected by people, substances, God, and other influences scattered across Montgomery.
About Kyle Banker
In 2019, Kyle graduated from Beaver Country Day School in Chestnut Hill. His favorite subjects include Biology, English, and Entrepreneurship. Some of his hobbies are playing soccer and hockey, volunteering, and being with friends and family. Kyle is now studying Biological Sciences at the University of Miami.
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