Today we have author Lane Davis who has shared with us, the idea as to where he got the idea and inspiration to I SWEAR. Lane has also been generous enough to donate a copy for a giveaway.
I SWEAR by Lane Davis
The idea for I SWEAR was sparked by real-life events in Massachusetts In 2010, 15-year-old Phoebe Prince committed suicide, hanging herself in the stairwell leading to the second floor of her family's apartment. After months of bullying by other students—one of whom she had been in some sort of romantic relationship with—the strain apparently became so great that she ended her life.
I was teased a little in junior high and high school, but nothing compared to what Phoebe apparently endured. However, I remember seeing others bullied far worse than I ever was. There was a young man I'll call Brian who was a year behind me in high school. He was was mercilessly tormented by a guy I'll call Kurt who was in my class. Even though I got teased from time to time about having a high-pitched voice and "big girl lips" I was always grateful that I escaped the worst cruelty for the most part. Kurt picked on Brian all the time, always threatening to put his head in the toilet, or trying to give him a "wedgey" by pulling his underwear up in the back. One day when we were changing in the locker room after P.E. Kurt actually lifted Brian up by the back of his underwear and hung him on a hook from the elastic in his briefs, which was both painful and humiliating. It made Brian cry and his underwear tore after a few seconds while he was trying to get down.
I felt so conflicted in that moment— like a coward for not standing up for Brian and trying to stop Kurt, but so relieved that Kurt wasn't picking on me. I remember the fear that clawed at my throat, and the helplessness I felt. I was powerless to help Brian without calling attention to myself. I wasn't strong enough to stand up to Kurt. When I read about the story of Phoebe Prince, the shame and fear of those memories came rushing back. It seemed we were all at Kurt's mercy so long ago.
As I read that the District Attorney in Massachusetts had taken the unusual step of filing criminal charges against Phoebe Prince's tormentors, I wondered who these students were, and what they would say if I could talk to them. Would they feel remorse for joining in? Were there other students who watched silently like I did when I was in high school? What happened in the offices of the lawyers when these young men and women were asked to enter a plea?
Fortunately, Brian did not commit suicide because of Kurt's teasing, but Phoebe Prince's death brought me face-to-face with the reality that Brian very easily could have given up. Some people do. What does it take for a young woman to give up on life? And how does it feel to know that you were the reason she did? These are the questions I wanted to answer by writing I SWEAR. In some small way, this book is my apology to Brian—and to Phoebe—for not being able to speak up for either of them, and my encouragement to students everywhere to be more bold than I was.
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