When seventeen-year-old Spelling Bee champ Winter Halperin posts a racist tweet on Twitter, her life is upended when it goes viral. After a stream of public criticisms and threats, her thoughtless action spurs consequences; Winter’s title as a Spelling Bee champ is revoked and her acceptance to her dream college is rescinded. She also loses one of her best friends, Jason, who is hurt and frustrated by Winter’s inability to realize the depth of her offense. Her reputation tarnished, Winter struggles to come to terms with her predicament. But does she really understand what she did was wrong? Will she accept personal accountability for the harm she has caused regardless of her intention? As a last resort Winter enters Revibe, a reputation rehabilitation retreat center. There, she meets others who’ve also faced public ridicule and shaming as they collectively attempt to better themselves, repair their reputations and atone for their past mistakes. She hopes an immersion in this environment will extricate her from the problems she has caused but the program does not provide an easy fix.
Although Winter learns much about who she is in relation to the society around her, she continues to miss some of the lesson’s finer points when she supports a character who has also lost his reputation although he, unlike Winter and most of her fellow retreat partners, has published his harmful posts purposely as part of a scam.
Winter is Jewish; she mentions attending Jewish Day School as a child and celebrates High Holidays. In particular, she finds the observance of Yom Kippur particularly fitting in her current state. Winter’s mother also peppers her speech with Yiddish words. She does not, though, attempt to filter her ethical dilemma through a deep Jewish lens as one who has her background might consider a natural process.
Certain to promote discussion, this story explores the intersecting concepts of the internet call-out culture, repentance, apology and what it means to face consequences in the digital age.