October 25, 2011

Book Review: Dear Bully 70 Authors Tell Their Stories

Title: Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Story
Authors: 70 of Today's YA authors
Edited By: Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones


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.
My Review
As a teacher, when I saw this book I knew it was something I had to read and see if it was something I could share in my classroom.  Bullying is such a huge topic in schools these days, so I hoped this might give me some insight and ideas. And because it was by authors my students might know, I knew what was written may impact them a bit more.  It did that, but what it also did was make me face my own memories of bullying growing.  Before I talk about the book, I need to give you my background.  I went to a small school.  A very small school.  There were 32 kids in my class.  In 7th grade I was bullied.  Almost every person in my class was in on it.  Maybe they didn't say anything, but they also didn't stop it. Day in and day out it happened. Reading this book brought it all back.  I'm 41 years old, but in an instant I felt 12 again.  I hated feeling that way, but it was also good that the book brought me back there because it gave me an even stronger empathy for the victims in the book.  It made the book that much more powerful to me.

Now enough of my story.  Let's look at the stories in the book.  What I really liked was that it was broken into different parts of bullies and bullying.  The hardest part for me to read were the stories that focused on the victim.  In these stories, the authors shared their stories of how they were terrorized by children around them.  Their writing was so raw, so open that it hurt to read it.  It hurt because I remembered my pain, and it hurt because it made me know that there are students I see everyday dealing with this, but I don't even know it! My heart just broke for them.  But here's the cool part, it didn't stay stuck on those stories.  Instead it went  on to show how victims became strong and either turned around the situation or were just stronger now in spite of it.  Those were the uplifting stories.  Those were the stories for kids who are being bullied now - to show them they can get beyond this.  Those stories showed it might be hard and a fight, but they could and would get to the other side.

Beyond those two sides there also stories about times the authors realized they had been the bystandard. They had stood there and done nothing while someone else bullied a kid.  These stores need to be shared, becuase honestly that's where most student are.  These stories might help them because strong enough to change what they see - to show them how to do that.  And there were also a few stories about authors who realized they had bullied someone.  I liked these because I thought kids could hear them and maybe see themselves in it.  It might help them see they are bullying and that they need to stop.  

Dear Bully is about "victims" taking the power of the bully away but addressing the bully and showing that they had made it.  They had gotten beyond it.  What a powerful tool.  It was also a time to thank someone who helped them.  Doing this gave the power back to the "victim".  One story in particular struck home for me.  I don't remember the author, but it was thanking one fellow classmate that talked to her when no one else would.  Would be near her when no one else would.  This classmate was voice in an otherwise isolated life.  It hit home so hard I could barely read it because I had that one classmate who sat and talked to me when no one else would - when he could've been cut off like me.  For him I was eternally grateful.  And to you Shawn, I say thank you. Thank you for what you did for me.   

Final Thought:  Read it. Share it.  Be a force of change because of it.
Best for: Everyone who has ever been bullied, watched bullying or been the bully.


  1. Sounds like an awesome book. And thanks for sharing your own experience. My entire school experience was not very happy in that way. Kids can be so mean and I can relate to the memories being painful even now.

  2. One of the things I like about seeing this book reviewed is that the stories continue to be shared. I think most people who read it have written a little about their own life and how this book related. Sadly, I haven't seen too many blog reviews of it and I am shocked. More people need to read this. It's amazing how not alone we are.

    I almost want to buy extra copies for school libraries in my neighbourhood. Especially my old elementary school (where my niece, 5 years old and in kindergarten, is also being bullied. FIVE YEARS OLD!). I'm not surprised from that place. :(