Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dear Bully by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones

Title: Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories
Authors: Megan Kelley Hall and Carie Jones (anthology editors)
Publisher: HarperCollins/HarperTeen
Release Date: September 1, 2011
Pages: 352 pages (paperback)
How I Got the Book: Bought it.

Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their StoriesYou 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.


Bullying has always been a serious issue, but it has become even more serious in the past few years. The suicides of gay teens that led to the It Gets Better campaign gained an unearthly amount of publicity, and teen suicide cases gain attention anyway because of the tragedy. In the Dear Bully anthology, seventy authors--some readers will know, be familiar with the same with, or may not know at all--tell their own stories of being bullied.

As the book points out, seventy-five percent of students are subjected to various types of harassment by others, be physical, emotional, online, or one of many other ways. Each story has great emotional resonance, especially to someone like me--I've been  bully, been bullied, and stood by while someone else was bullied. No one story is greater than the others, but Michelle Zink's story of frenemies and Sophie Jordan's "The Eulogy of Ivy O'Conner" are very familiar to me and have stuck with me. It's been only a few days since I finished the novel, but I'm sure they will continue to stick with me, as will many others.

My main problem with the book is that it is perhaps too ambitious. The message that bullying needs to stop rings true, but it loses its potency because of how many stories there are in the book that hammer this message in. Methinks seventy was a few too many stories for one book. There was one particular story in the anthology that bothered me for reasons it shouldn't have. One story in particular felt almost... fake, and I feel terrible for admitting I feel that way about it.

Dear Bully was a truly affecting anthology. The pages of resources in the back point the curious to anti-bullying programs, programs such as the Trevor Project and Reach Out, and numbers teens can call if they are feeling suicidal or are overwhelmed with problems. The novel itself is a great resource for anyone wondering just how badly bullying can affect a person, and I'm certain this novel will help someone out there.

4 stars!

What am I reading next?: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman