Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dear Bully (aka The Most Powerful Book I've Read This Year)

Did you enter my latest giveaway? 

Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories 
Edited by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones
Harper Teen, September 1, 2011

Summary from Goodreads:
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 book is heartbreaking. It's amazing that so many of these authors were bullied but used that to become such strong individuals. It's also amazing that so many of these authors attempted to get adults to intervene only to be told to ignore the bullies, or to suck it up.

I don't want to get into my whole sordid childhood, but just know that it sucked. Elementary school was wretched, high school was worse...things didn't really look up for me until I went away to college and could become a new person. Ugh, I really hate even thinking about it. But did the bullying make me a stronger person? I really don't think so. I'm a very paranoid person--I constantly think people are talking about me--and even though I think I'm a good, loyal, trustworthy friend, I can't hold onto a "best" friend for more than a few years, for one reason or another.

What the bullying has done has made me hyperaware and attuned to my daughter's childhood. I prayed she wouldn't get my curls (she did) or my vision (yup--my husband jokes that it's my fault but I say that his good vision and straight hair should be the dominant gene, which means that HE failed. LOL Give me enough time and I can make anything his fault.). Still, I think she's much cuter than I ever was, and she certainly has a more outgoing personality. I'll make sure to never cut her thick, curly hair too short, and as fashionable as plastic glasses are, I can't look at them without picturing my hideous Coke bottles, so I'll keep steering her towards the stylish metal frames. While I have told her at times to just ignore certain people or things, I've also told her that there are times when it's acceptable and even required to stand up for herself. If that day should come, and if she should get in trouble for standing up for herself, I will be proud to stand up for her as well.

Oh my god, I cannot believe I got into all of that, and will probably delete most of it. Just know that I think Dear Bully is the most powerful book I've read this year. It's not my favorite, and it made me very uncomfortable at times, but it was also reassuring to know that other people--authors I look up to and admire--were bullied when they were younger--many even worse than I was. And these authors are stronger because of that.

I feel Dear Bully should be required reading for all parents--perhaps they should be given a copy at kindergarten, middle school, AND high school orientation. In addition, all students should be required to read it, as well. Perhaps, if they're being bullied, they can realize they're not alone. And perhaps, if they ARE the bully, they can see themselves in these pages, and realize the harm they're causing. Teachers and other caregivers should be required to read it, as well, to know that "just ignore it" is not always (or often) an acceptable solution to a bullying problem. Basically, I can't think of anyone who won't benefit from this book in some way.

It just scares me, as a parent, to know that my daughter will probably go through this at one point in her life. I want to be able to help her through. The stories and resources in this book might help.

Borrowed book from the library.
Enjoy your reading!

1 comment:

  1. AWESOME review. This is next on my TBR. Right now I'm making my 5th grade daughter read it because she has been a bit of a bully to her sister and some of the less talented girls on her softball team. She's 3/4 through now, and I have seen a dramatic change already. I haven't read it yet, but between your review and what I've seen with my own eyes as to the effect it's had on her, I have no doubt that you are right about this needing to be required reading for parents and kids; I will add to that teachers... I think a lot of kids become bullies because they have been the victims of bullies themselves (I believe this has been the case with my kid), and when they go to teachers for help- teachers who have a supposed "zero tolerance for bullying" policy- they don't get it. Again, great review. Thanks for relating your story to it because that is what made it substantial.


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