September 1, 2011

Dear Bully

Dear Bully Edited by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones
Published by Harper Teen September 1st 2011
ARC provided by the Publisher

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.

     I would never dream of reviewing a book like this because the stories contained within are the personal stories of the author. It wouldn't be possible to review their experiences. I will however say how important a book like this is, how scary the statistics are and how sad it made me to read and remember the cruelty of  others. This book needs to be on the bookshelves of every home with a school-ager, tween or teen. In every school classroom, in every school library and in every public one too. It should be required reading for every teacher and school Principal. It needs to be accessible to everyone because the message that  "you are not alone" is such an important one.

My story: (this is me being brave and personal-because the authors are inspiring)

   I can tell you that when I was in high-school I felt like the "most" alone person in the world.  In between grade 8 and grade 9 was the summer that really started it all. I hung out with my best friends everyday and every evening. We partied, had sleepovers, and watched endless amounts of horror movies. In August of that summer my family took a vacation- I was gone 4 days. That's it. 4 flipping days. And I came back to a complete life change. My friends no longer spoke to me. I had no idea why, I never did find out because they never said. I got the silent treatment, and when they weren't being silent they were calling my house and saying horrible things, and sometimes evening threatening me. When I told my mom she said "they are not your friends then" but they were, they had been and I couldn't for the life of me figure out what had happened. 
  Of course this made starting high-school in the fall terrifying. I switched schools. I went to a school where I thought no one would know me. I sat alone at lunch, and then I skipped school to avoid sitting alone at lunch and then somehow I became a target there as well. I was spit on, shoved, kicked, threatened, held down while a boy did something awful. So I switched schools again- that was my mom's answer- switching schools- I switched 6 times. I never went to Prom or graduated High school (I did much later by doing equivalency exams) I hated myself, and spent a lot of my time wishing I could just disappear. I still have trouble trusting people, and I always have this fear when I go away that when I get back people I love won't be there in the way they were before. I'm not sure that I will ever get over that. But now as an adult I have friends who are there for me, a husband that I'm madly in love with, a son who lights up my life everyday and a job where I can support and encourage kids, adults and teens. Maybe I wouldn't have that if my life as a teen would have been different?
I wish there had been a Dear Bully book 14 years ago.

Highly recommended.


  1. That's awful...It's times like these when I am so very very glad I go to an online charter school. Funny thing is, just this summer a similar thing (the losing your friends part) happened to me.

  2. I totally understand why you wouldn't want to review this novel. I'm not big on anthologies but this is one I'm definitely getting. Such an important thing! Thanks so much for sharing your story!

  3. Bullying is so cruel, I just don't understand it. Thanks for sharing your story, Jen. I know it must have been tough for you. It's weird how thinking back to events from years ago can feel so raw. It's hard to remember all the good times from so long ago, but those cruel words and actions? So, so easy to recall.

    I'll talk about my experiences too:
    I was bullied a lot in gr. 5 & 6 by the same guy, mostly about my weight, and it made me feel really bad about myself. It was right after my parents separated and I was at a new school, so it was insanely tough. Eventually he was kicked out of school, and I realize now that he was obviously trying to compensate and deflect away from his crappy home life, though of course that doesn't take away the horrible pain I felt every day at school. When he was gone things were a lot better, though I was still insanely shy and self-conscious. I went to a really small private school and after grade 8 almost everyone graduated and went to the same high school, but my Mom couldn't afford tuition anymore so I had to go to a school where I knew almost no one. The only people I knew had totally different schedules from me, so I ate a lot of lunches alone. I also skipped class a lot and walked home so at least I wouldn't feel like everyone was judging me for being so awkward and alone. Grade 9 was so, so tough, but eventually I made friends. I still always felt shy and awkward when they weren't around, though.

    Like you said, I think I'll always be a little bit scared. Most of the time I feel fine, but I still sometimes worry about people talking behind my back or judging me. I'm always going to be quiet and a little bit shy, and most of the time I am okay with that. I feel good about the person I am. But I hate that the fear is always there deep down.

    I wish there were an easy way to end the horrible cycle of bullying. I hope that books like this will raise awareness, and even if a few people pick it up and realize that bullying is wrong, then maybe the world can continue to grow and get better.

  4. Thank you for sharing such a personal memory with us... it brought tears to my eyes. I too was bullied when I was younger, but not to the same extent as yourself. It was mostly related to the fact that I grew up in a small white town where I'm half-Chinese, so my differences immediately stood out. People would treat me unfairly and call me names... and I still remember crying myself to sleep at night because I felt so alone.

    I did have a similar situation though with someone I thought had been a best friend. She started being really mean to me for no reason at all, and I found out it was because she was trying to be friends with some other girls who were telling her to treat me that way. I'm glad I refused to put up with it for too long; a friend isn't worth having if they're going to treat you that way.

    It's still really difficult for me to trust people today... and ever harder for me to forgive them.

    I think it's important to believe that we're not alone in being bullied, even though we may not remember it at the time.

  5. Thanks for being supportive, and for sharing...

  6. You are so amazing. And brave. This would be an impossibly difficult novel to review, because as you say, how can you judge a collection of deeply personal experiences. But it's definitely one that I'm going to need to get a copy of. <3 & hugs

  7. oh hun, thanks for sharing ((hugs)). I wish kids would realize that things like this has long lasting effects. I totally agree, this is something that should be part of required reading!

  8. HUGS JEN! I'm so sorry for your experience. When I first saw this book I thought I hope this sheds light on bullying and that it does something wonderful. Even if it just changes one life I think it would be worth it. Thanks for sharing your experience with us!