Edited by: Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones
Publication Date: September 2011
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: August 15, 2011
Bullying was once considered a normal part of growing up. Children who were bullied were told to ignore the bully, fight back, or walk away. Conflicting advice to be sure, but it was no big deal because eventually you grow up, move on, and the bullying stops. But bullying IS a big deal and today we, as a society, are much more aware of the problems that fester around it. With cyber bullying and the deaths of bullied teens reaching national newscasts, bullying has gained much more attention. Now, a wonderful new book for teens has just been published, a book “co-authored” by 70 different authors who share their stories.
Dear Bully takes the experiences of various people, from around the country, and various walks of life, and brings their stories together in one excellent book. The authors openly discuss their torments, and tormentors, for all to see. The first story, “Dear Bully,” written by Laurie Faria Stolarz, a bestselling author and victim of bullying, grabs the reader on the first page. Stolarz writes about her time in middle school, when a bully, one year her senior, made riding the school bus sheer hell. We see the stupidity of bullying, and how adults, who promised to “take care” of the problem, promised much but did little. This is just the first of 70 stories that will grab you, make you cringe along with the victims of bullying, and wonder at the anger behind the vacant faces of the bullies.
The authors of these stories include not just the victims, but also parents and friends, the accomplices of bullies as well as bullies themselves. Hearing from the bullies is eye-opening as we get a look at what made them pick on other children, from those who admit “I don’t know why I did it,” to “she was different/fat/new to our school.” As adults, we can look back on these reasons and realize how foolish they are but for pre-teens/teens, being different is all it takes.
The essays, all fairly brief, were engaging and interesting. “The Eulogy of Ivy O’Connor” by Sophie Jordan, with negative words crossed out of the speech – creepy, strange, different, etc. – and replaced with positive words –guilt to fondness, crap to stuff – really resonated. So too did the many stories of adults admitting to the wrongs of their teen years. Dear Bully would be an excellent tool to aid in classroom discussions on bullying. Given the relatively brief essays, one or two could be discussed per day or each student could read one and present their findings to the class. Most importantly, teens reading this book, particularly those who are the victims of bullies, will see that they are not alone.
Dear Bully does not attempt to offer solutions to bullying but rather, to let bullied children know they are not alone. There are resources listed at the back of the book for more information, and a portion of the proceeds from the sale of Dear Bully are being donated to the anti-bullying organizaiton "Stomp Out Bullying" www.stompoutbullying.org.
Quill says: While Dear Bully will not solve the serious problem of bullying, it will definitely aid teens in dealing with the fallout from being bullied.