Pages - 350
Published by Harper Teen (US)
I know bullying. Personally and through my children. In elementary school, I was smart. Sort of pretty. A talented equestrian, singer, dancer, and creative writer. I was also chubby. Not obese. Not even fat, really. But not a skinny jeans kind of girl. You know, the kid who other kids called 'Elsie the cow.' Luckily I was strong - the kid who let insults roll off because she knew in her heart she was destined to do great things.
You are not alone.
Discover how Lauren Kate transformed the feeling of that one mean girl getting under her skin into her first novel, how Lauren Oliver learned to celebrate ambiguity in her classmates and in herself, and how R.L. Stine turned being the “funny guy” into the best defense against the bullies in his class.
Today’s top authors for teens come together to share their stories about bullying—as silent observers on the sidelines of high school, as victims, and as perpetrators—in a collection at turns moving and self-effacing, but always deeply personal.
This is one of those books that will remind you of your past. It will bring back all the incidents that you recall that affected your enjoyment of school as a child. If you were one of the lucky few who never experienced any form of bullying at school, then I am pleased for you, because you are a rarity. According to the statistics at the front of the book, a child is bullied every seven minutes on a school playground with 85% of those going without any intervention from an adult. That is a huge amount of suffering and is something that needs to be tackled worldwide.
For me, this book couldn't have been read at a more apt time. Both of my daughters who recently started secondary school have experienced situations that I would define as bullying this week. Luckily my girls find they can talk to me and I have been able to guide them through the situations as well as make sure the school is fully aware and is paying attention. However, not every child is willing to talk so openly about bullying with an adult or a peer and that is where this book needs to come in. This is the type of the book that should be on every school book shelf.
The book is made up of over 70 different stories written by American Young Adult authors and deal with how either they or members of their family have dealt with bullying. The book is separated into sections which deal with different elements of bullying. There are sections where the authors reflect; where the praise the friends who stood by them as well as a section on survival and how things got better.
I wanted to pick out a few of the stories which really stood out for me.
Dear Samantha by Kieran Scott. - Kieran Scott writes a letter to the bully from her year who managed to control so many people's lives. She tries to work out how she managed to have so much control, but then explains how it made her stronger as a person as she grow up. I loved that this story showed how she overcame the situation and moved on.
There's A Light by Saundra Mitchell - this brought tears to my eyes. She recalls how close she came to giving up her life because of the torment she faced over head lice. She was one of the lucky ones who was saved, as the statistics say that a child commits suicide as a result of being bullied every half an hour.
Frenemies Are Not Enemies by Michelle Zink - from this story I took inspiration and guidance on how to help my own children. Michelle talks about how her daughter's decision to change her appearance affected her friendships and became a victim. Michelle showed her out to make new friends with people who were similar to her. I really did find this story such a true inspiration.
Finding Light In The Darkness by Lisa Shroeder - I love the way Lisa Shroeder writes as all her stories are written in verse. I find that the words seem to sink in more and affect my feelings at a greater depth. This poem shows how a bullied child finds the right pathway to lead them into the light and away from the trouble.
This book is just packed full of stories like these that not only tell a tale, but give us advice. They are there as guidance to show that there is a way to stand up to bullies and a way to overcome them. The authors in the book are all American YA authors, but many are well known in the UK too, so I don't think that affects our enjoyment at all of this book. It is one of those books that you can dip in and out of as you feel the need.
At the back of the book there are resources for teenagers and parents to help with bullying. Alas these are organisations directed at Americans, but they have online sites which may help people in the UK.
As I mentioned before, this is a book that should be on every school's book shelf and it should definitely be one that all children should read.