Me and Banksy
Me and Banksy
When the first camera appeared, high on our cafeteria wall, Holden and I bickered about it. He called it “a Big Brother surveillance tool” and “a symbol of the corporate overlords,” which didn’t really make sense. The school was a non-profit organization, not a corporation, I told him. And even if it were a corporation, it’s not like anyone cared what we did, as long as we went to class and acted like normal human beings.
Me and Banksy is a thoroughly enjoyable tale of an eighth grade student named Dominica who challenges the administration at her school to remove cameras that are infringing on the privacy of the students. Mitchell Academy for gifted students has cameras, lots of them. When Dominica notices her shirt is inside-out, she quickly flips it around in a dark corner of the library, but then the school surveillance system gets hacked, and the video of her changing is released onto the student internet forum. Dom and her best friend Saanvi go to the principal about their concerns, but when their complaints fall on deaf ears, the girls, along with their friends, organize a peaceful rebellion based on the street art of British artist Banksy.
Although the novel is technically about vandalism, it is full of heartwarming friendships, supportive parents, and excellent teachers that push their students to think critically and act responsibly. There is a clear line drawn between vandalism for the sake of vandalism and thoughtful protest; however, some teachers may not want to recommend this book to students they feel aren’t capable of making this distinction. The novel also focuses more on the issue of privacy rather than the real concerns about cyber bullying, but the author does address this concern at the back of the book.
While the final showdown is a little over the top, it didn’t feel out of line with the characters, and the reader feels satisfied at the conclusion. Overall, Me and Banksy is engaging, well-plotted, and ultimately thought provoking novel.
Alise Nelson is a graduate of Simon Fraser University with a double major in English and History. She is currently an MLIS student and a Library Assistant in teen services at the Prince George Public Library in British Columbia.