Why did I read it: October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Also, given the age groups that I work with, I felt that it was very important to read this book.
How I would rate it: 4 out of 5 stars.
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.
Review: I’ll admit that I had to read this in very small doses because it definitely stirred up a lot of bad, painful memories for me. I’m glad I read it, of course, but high school was one of the worst experiences of my life thus far.
A lot of contributions go into how life goes on after bullying and after high school, which is terrific since all of these authors can relate to what tweens and teens are currently going through. Not all of the authors in the anthology cited their own personal experiences, which I think was incredibly important too, because what many wrote about instead was what happened to others without networks of support or being a teen who stands up for someone else who is being bulled. Not all of these contributions offered up happy endings or messages of hope, but a lot of what they do offer will resonate with teens and certainly can offer up some suggestions for parents, teachers, counselors, therapists, etc. Some submissions definitely worked better than others, of course. My favorites were from Heather Brewer, Mo Willems, Eric Luper, A. S. King, R. L. Stine, and Cyn Balog.
As is the case with a lot of anthologies, there is something in here for everyone and there’s no real need to read anything in order. Or to read every section because I don’t know that there really is a need for tweens and teens to read this cover to cover. What I do know is that adults in position to do some good if not the most good need to take it upon themselves to keep a copy on hand and be prepared to give students the pages they need if not the book as a whole. Because Dear Bully does tell tweens and teens aren’t alone, but it is absolutely up to the people in their lives to show them that they aren’t. And to place books like this in places where teens can find them.
In conclusion, a very powerful and much needed book. I really applaud the efforts of editors Megan Keally Hall and Carrie Jones. And I am still quite impressed by how many authors were willing to revisit their past and, in most cases, explore painful truths.