This post is actually a difficult one to write. The following is the review I wrote for The Bully Book for Goodreads:
"This book is disturbing on many levels..... That being said I think it would be an excellent book to promote class discussion on bullying. My only qualm was the role of adults in the story. How many times have we told students tell an adult? Do we listen? Do we do something? Is it enough? Maybe this a book adults should be reading too."
The book is actually two stories, or journals rather, blended into one. One story is the “bully book” or guidebook on to how to be cool and rule the school (while being a bully). The other story is the journal of Eric Haskins, the current sixth grade “grunt”, the student that has been chosen for some unknown reason to be picked on, harassed, tortured, in a word – bullied – by the entire sixth grade. Eric cannot fathom why he was chosen, or why his friends have suddenly turned on him and won’t even talk to him. Who make the rules? Why is he the “grunt”? What can he do to save himself? Determined to find out, Eric launches his own investigation to find the answers and along the way discovers the existence of the “bully book”. Unfortunately, the author and location of the book remain a well-guarded mystery.
As I mentioned in my Goodreads review, the adults depicted in the story disturb me. Are they really so dense they don’t see or even sense what’s going on? The “bully book” offers bullies insight into how to deal with adults that ask questions, it’s chilling testament to how easy it is to fool people into believing the innocent are at fault. What is even more disturbing is when Eric finally discovers the true author of the “bully book” and that person’s reaction. You can feel the pain in Eric’s reaction:
“Bully Bookers forget……… We live this life forever!”
You’ll have to read the story to find out whom the culprit is, it’s a shocker.
While I think this is an important book for kids to read, it’s a book that needs to be discussed as it’s read. Kids need to understand that being a bully is not cool, not for the “grunt”, the bully, or the kids dragged into the mess. The effects of bullying are not easily forgotten and in fact stay with people for years, if not forever. While the story is fiction I did read in the author’s section that he was inspired to write the story from real life events when he was in sixth grade. I’m sure there are many of us who can relate….