Today I have Heather from Buried in Books. Heather is here today to guest review and her book shall be none other than Dear Bully. Sit back and ENJOY!
Fairly powerful picture isn't it? It's nothing compared to the stories inside. Yes, there are stories about being bullied and those are familiar to us. But there are stories about bullying. When you just kind of go with the group mentality and in that way you become a bully. Or, there is a story about how you felt powerful bullying someone, that you were better than her and therefore someone. These authors don't pull any punches. They admit to being bullies themselves as well as being bullied. The stories in this anthology are completely honest and brave and compassionate even to the bullies.
There are way too many stories to review but I'll pick a few out to highlight. These are two that stood out to me for personal reasons, but there are so many great stories in the anthology. Saundra Mitchell, author of “The Vespertine” and “The Springsweet”, grew up in public housing just like all the kids she went to school with, wore the same kind of clothes, had the same kind of food, only the kids picked on her. “Saundra has lights” was written on chalkboards, desks, bathroom walls. Do you know what that means? Sounds like she's special to me. But the kids were mean, breaking her glasses, not wanting to sit by her, pinching her and always “Saundra has lights” even whispered. In sixth grade, Saundra found out what it meant. The stupid bullies couldn't even spell their insult wrong. Lice. They were trying to say she had lice. And no one ever corrected it. When she ran away from school because the kids were so mean she was told to ignore them. And then sent to the principal to be paddled. Yes, back then bullies built character in us. And the principals gave us paddlings, or swats or whatever you'd like to call it. But they could hit us. And so could the bullies. And that's what the verbal abuse turned into for Saundra. High school was worse until finally at 14 she took an overdose-Lights Out she called it.
I know I'm telling the whole story but there are plenty more to read. This one, this one is very timely considering I've read about two young kids, under the age of 14 that committed suicide this week because of bullying. Saundra survived because her brother found her and called his mom. They fed her mustard until she threw up. THEY NEVER TALKED ABOUT WHY SHE TOOK THE PILLS. That's a damn shame. But here is what Saundra has to say now:
“But I'm talking about it now. Twenty years after my attempt, I realize it's still happening everywhere, and everywhere people keep wondering how this happens.
Here's the answer: learning to fit in, learning to get along, ignoring it, and being the better person don't work.
Asking victims to save themselves doesn't work. People need to intervene. They need to give up on disbelief, on stupid, gossamer lies-oh, it's not that bad, you'll survive, high school is only four years.
They need to start listening. They need to hear us say; It's that bad. Four years is too long. It has to stop. Putting faith in the idea that it will make a difference---we're all sharing our bullying stories. This one is mine.
I hope it'll be a light.”
I hope we're all more aware than Saundra's an my parents were (I can't speak for anyone else's parents) that ignoring, trying to fit it, those things don't work. And why should we have to change who we are to get people to stop hitting us, torturing us. They are in the wrong, not us. It has to stop. Speak up if it's happening, whether to you, someone else or your child. We do care. This is us caring. Tell somebody until you find someone who will listen.
On a lighter note was R.L. Stine's story of how he dealt with his bullies. I read this one especially to my child because he is unique and I want him to stay that way. He has a sense of humor and well, you'll see for yourself how R.L. Stine uses that to his advantage. R.L. Stine is the well known author of the Goosebumps series. The title of his story is “The Funny Guy”.
It starts with him in elementary school and he is the class clown. He accidentally bumps into Pete, a kid twice his size and spills macaroni on him. Instead of saying sorry, R.L. Stine says, “You gonna wear that or eat it?” Pete puts a blob of macaroni on Stine's forehead and Stine jokes “needs more cheese.” It doesn't go over very well and now he's on Pete's radar with his two flunkies Ronnie and McKay. They are waiting for him at the bus stop every day after school. They chase him the two blocks home, then chase him and push him down, then chase him and punch him and push him down. Finally there is the big showdown. They force R.L. Stine into a 'haunted house' and tell him he has to stay there all night.
But, in a unique twist of fate, Stine starts shrieking and he goes to the window shrieking that it hurts and for help and the three bullies, previously in the yard can't run fast enough to get away. After that, they leave him alone. R.L. Stine says he uses the feeling of panic he had waiting to see if they were at the bus stop and the feeling in the house and draws on that for his stories.
Can you feel it?
Oh there are so many great stories in this book! About triumph, all are as everyone survived. About how some used their experiences to write their novels, or pulled from their fears to make sure they rose above it. Some vowed to never be a bully again or to be bullied. But everyone realized they learned something from their experience and I think you will too if you take the time to read it. I honestly didn't expect it to be as interesting as it is. I highlighted and dogeared (I know) pages I wanted to remember because bullying will probably always be going on. It's how we handle it that has to change. Our kids should not have to “live with it.” That is not a solution.
Okay so this was a rant and a review. I recommend that you read Dear Bully so much! As I said, I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did. The stories are short so you can read a few and pick it up when you have time again. That's not what I did. I got hooked and had to keep going. My heart cried out for the little kids in these stories/letters. Sometimes I laughed though. Sometimes I was just pissed off. It made me feel many things and you see bullying from many perspectives. I saw myself in there and you might see yourself too.
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Buried in Books