Saturday, December 24, 2011

Review: Dear Bully

Title: Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories
Author: N/A
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release date: September 1st 2011
Pages: 352
Genre: YA; non-fiction
Source: Bought
Find out more: Amazon ; Goodreads

Goodreads description:
You 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.

First sentence:
I know bullying.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is a hard book to review. I can't talk about writing, characters, plot, or any of the things I normally talk about in reviews, since those are different in each part of the anthology. I don't even think I can really judge the book, since it's so personal - how can you say a story is good or bad, when it's something that actually happened, to an actual person?

But at the same time, how personal each of the stories is is one of my favorite aspects of Dear Bully. This is so much more personal than a regular novel, and I felt like I was getting to know all of these authors in a completely different way than if I'd be reading one of their fiction books. I especially liked reading contributions by authors whose work I know - it's interestng to see how their past and their experiences with bullying shaped their writing.

Each one of these stories is great. Yes, maybe some of them are a little repetitive, but I didn't mind, since it just helped get the point across even clearer, and I think this way everyone will have one or two stories that speak to them personally. My favorites were "The Eulogy of Ivy O'Connor" by Sophie Jordan and "Slivers of Purple Paper" by Cyn Balog - they're just... wow. I've read them over and over again, and they made me cry each time.

I don't want to seem cynical, but I have to say, I liked the stories from the bully's point of view even better than the ones from the victim's. I loved all of them, and I felt for each of the characters, but my favorite chapter would have to be "Regret" - I can't even really explain why, but I loved the contributions where people apologized for being the bully or for doing nothing to stop a bully. I found it fascinating to read about their reasons. That added a different perspective, and I wish there would have been even more stories from that point of view.

I'm not usually a fan of really strong messages and I don't like being preached to, but in Dear Bully, it worked - the message comes from personal experience, and I really like how it feels like the author is speaking to you personally, and asking you personally to do something about bullying. It's a message that needs to be heard.

I don't have all that much to say about Dear Bully because, like I said, this is a hard book to review, but it's still an amazing book. I was kind of reluctant to read this one, since I've never read an anthology before and didn't know whether it'd work, but there was no need to worry. This is an emotional, powerful book, and while I usually hate when people write something like "this book needs to be read by teens everywhere," it's so true in the case of Dear Bully.


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