Posts Tagged 'bullying'

Gutless by Carl Deuker

Genre:  Sports Fiction

# of Pages:  329

Brock Ripley has always considered himself gutless because he tends to shy away from aggressive plays in all sports.  He’s even considering quitting soccer for next season because he feels responsible for losing the championship game for his team.  Then, he’s asked to play with Hunter Gates in the local park because he needs to practice throwing the football to someone.  He’s nervous, but Hunter is the kind of guy you do not say no to and you desperately try not to get on his bad side.  Brock is fast and has an eye for the ball, but is terrified of getting tackles in a real football setting.  Hunter’s dad tries to convince Brock to try out for football because they think the two of them could be a good pair.  Brock’s parents need some serious convincing to let him even try out, but as a freshmen who has never played before he ends up on the freshmen team and even on that he is not a superstar.  Meanwhile, he befriends an outgoing, silly, nerdy, Asian kid named Richie who immediately becomes a target for bullying from Hunter and his friends.  As Brock tries to be friends with Richie and play on the football team he finds himself ignoring the harsh treatment that Richie keeps getting from the older, bigger players.  Eventually things escalate and Brock must decide whose side he’s going to be on.

Fans of sports fiction will once again enjoy this new addition by Carl Deuker.  He includes both football and soccer action that sports fans will love, but also includes a lot on the topic of bullying that is so timely today.  The foreshadowing will instantly put the reader on alert with a sense of foreboding, but the characters are engaging enough that you have to keep reading to find out what happens.

Fifteen Seconds of Normal by Alex Marestaing

fifteen-seconds-of-normal

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Romance

# of Pages 292

**special review**

Kaeya is a recent transfer who is hiding the fact that she has Tourette’s from her classmates.  She wants people to accept her for who she is and not the disease she deals with daily.  Thatcher learns that his father has left his mother when he finds his mother crying inconsolably and he has to take his sister to school without even taking the time to shower or comb his hair.  Unfortunately, it is picture day at school and he takes the worst photo of his life.  Even more unfortunate for him is that a classmate makes a meme out of the picture and it goes viral.  As Kaeya desperately tries to fit in and earn a date with her crush, Thatcher wonders if he’ll ever survive this humiliation.  Through unexpected circumstances they come together and begin getting to know each other.  Could they be exactly what the other person needs?  Could this be the beginning of something special?

This book tackles issues that many other books don’t, such as the influence of social media on teenagers and Tourette’s, which is a syndrome many teens probably do not know much of anything about.  Yet, the focus of the book is not on hate, judgment, or humiliation but instead on love, patience, and kindness.  Kaeya and Thatcher are extremely engaging characters and their thoughts and emotions are carefully crafted so that the reader wants to know more about each of them and how their relationship will continue to develop.  This is a really engaging, unique story that will take teens by surprise.  Recommended.

Ten by Gretchen McNeil

Genre:  Suspense/Mystery

# of Pages:  294

RAC:  Yes

This take on Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, features 10 teenagers who were lured to a weekend house on an island for a party that they find out was never happening.  Instead, they start getting killed off one by one in extremely odd fashion.  Meg accompanied her friend, Minnie, to the party even thought she had some reservations to begin with.  She is also the only one who tries to think of constructive ways to get off of this island.  All of her ideas are thwarted, however.  There is no power, Internet, phone service, radios, or any way to contact the outside world.  They have ascertained they are indeed alone on the island which means the killer is among them.  How can they survive if they do not even know who or what the threat is?

This mystery is still a lot of fun even with the updated characters.  They all have past issues that all teen readers can relate to and in most cases those issues contribute to why they are on this island.  There are some plot revelations that are fairly predictable, but the suspense and overall pacing of the story will keep readers interested all the way until the very end.  A fun mystery story.

Princess of Las Pulgas by C.Lee McKenzie

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  348

RAC:  Yes

Carlie, her mother, and her brother must move from their home after the death of their father/husband due to the mounting medical bills.  Not only must they leave their home, school, friends, and neighborhood, but they must move to a rough part of town that is the rival of their old school.  When they begin their new life they are all still dealing with the loss of their father/husband and therefore appear disengaged from their daily activities.  Carlie in particular is targeted as being standoffish and is criticized for believing she is better than everyone else.  Can she ever find a place for herself in this new school?  Will she ever find a way to cope with the loss of her father?

This story shows how the death of a loved one can and often does affect every aspect of a teenager’s life.  Carlie’s mother is clearly struggling with the loss of her husband, but at the same time is having a difficult time helping her children come to terms with the loss of their father.  Carlie’s brother, Keith, and herself handle their new surroundings differently, but the reasons behind their actions are very much the same.  Carlie’s perception at her new school clouds her experience and makes her easy fodder for bullies.  All in all, a good story about a family coping with death and transition after death.

Seeing Red by Peter Lancett

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  221

RAC Book: No

Tom lives a very privileged life and frankly is not afraid to show it.  His parents are very busy professionals and he finds himself on his own a lot.  He loves divulging what labels he’s wearing and how fancy his house is, but he doesn’t have real close friends to discuss real issues with.  When he meets Sylvia he thinks she might be the one to finally understand him.  She shows him the wonders of cutting and he finds himself going down the same path whenever he has difficulty dealing with an issue in his life.  Sylvia is not as invested in the relationship as he is, however, and his ability to cope with the possibility of losing her comes into question.

Tom’s voice is very honest and easy for young adult readers to identify with.  Reluctant readers might find it especially easy to engage with him as he says everything he is thinking and does not really care about how it sounds.  Tom deals with many difficult issues such as abortion and depression, but it is handled in a way that readers can easily understand.  There is some strong language used at times to help Tom describe exactly how the people around him talk.  Fans of Ellen Hopkins would like this title, but encourage any reader who gravitates toward titles like this to feel comfortable discussing it with a teacher, librarian, or guidance counselor afterward as some of the material can affect some students more strongly than others.

Quad by C.G. Watson

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  296

RAC Book:  No

This story focuses on high school students from different cliques being thrown together in fear as an unknown shooter begins to take out students in the quad.  The six students all have their fair share of insecurity and have battled in high school antics, but they have trouble deciding who they think has snapped and brought a gun to school.  As accusations and fears fly they all must evaluate their own behavior as well as the behavior of others in the school.  They quickly realize that more than one person has reason to bring a gun to school.  Will they survive this threat?

This is a very accurate portrayal of the different cliques present at most high schools.  Along with the cliques comes the cruel treatment and calculated bullying and insults.  While accurate, parts of this story are difficult to read and may bother some students.   Quad is not the best bullying book out there, but would work well in combination with others such as Hate List and Wish You Were Dead and would be interesting to reluctant readers.

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  405 p.

RAC Book:  Yes

In this gripping novel, Valerie is shocked when her boyfriend, Nick, brings a gun to school and begins shooting students.  She tries to stop him, but ends up getting shot in the leg before he turns the gun on himself.  In the aftermath, a notebook is found at Nick’s house of a list of people the two of them kept whom they hated.  People were put on this list for a variety of reasons, but mainly because they bullied Nick or Valerie or encouraged it in some way.  As Valerie courageously returns to the school for her senior year, she must face the repercussions of Nick’s actions as some people blame her and believe she should be in jail.  Others seem to think she is a hero for trying to stop the shooting and want Valerie to move on, but can she forgive herself for not seeing this coming?

This story forces every reader to think hard about his or her actions.  Everyone knows what it feels like to be picked on in some way and can identify with Nick and Valerie, but at the same time must decide how bullying should be punished.  Also, this book asks us all to think about how bullying can be stopped in schools or if that is even possible.  Valerie’s psychiatrist asks her to look at things for what is there and not what appears to be there.  This is something we should all be a little better at, but unfortunately it is often difficult to see the reasons behind certain behaviors.  Highly recommended.

Wish You Were Dead by Todd Strasser

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Suspense

# of Pages:  236 p.

RAC Book: Yes

Madison lives in a wealthy, safe neighborhood where no one ever thinks anything bad could possibly happen.  When an anonymous blogger writes that she wishes one of the popular girls, Lucy, would die she disappears.  As the community frantically tries to find out what happened to Lucy, Madison must deal with her guilt over being the last one to see her.  When the blogger then starts singling out others and more disappear, the entire community begins to panic instilling curfews and chaperones on all the teenagers.  Meanwhile, Madison is receiving mysterious notes and she often feels like she is being followed.  Could she be the next victim?  Will she be able to figure this out before it is too late?

This story touches on the issue of bullying and how even minor comments and actions can have lingering effects.  The suspense and mystery will keep even reluctant readers interested, while at the same time providing several good topics for discussion in small groups.  How involved should parents and teachers be with bullying?  How should bullies be punished?  Should the victims take any responsibility?  What could you do if you see a student getting bullied?

Lipstick Apology by Jennifer Jabaley

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Romance

# of Pages:  321

RAC Book:  Yes

Emily throws a party when her parents are out of town and is not expected to be caught by her Aunt Jolie.  Jolie is not there to keep an eye on Emily, however.  Instead, she is there to inform Emily that her parents’ plane has crashed and her parents have in fact died.  As Emily tries to cope with the loss of her parents, it is only made worse by the discovery of an airplane tray in the wreckage with the words “Emily Please Forgive Me” written on it in her mother’s favorite shade of lipstick.  As Emily struggles to understand what her mother is apologizing for, she is moved to NYC to live with her aunt where she has to begin a new school and try to make new friends.  As Emily tries to navigate dating, high school, and friendships, she can’t help but keep trying to figure out what her mother’s apology meant and if she will ever find out the truth.

This book starts out very dramatic and really draws readers in.  It then moves into a typical teenage book with a new school, bullying, boyfriends who cheat, etc.  Emily’s life is interesting because her aunt is a famous make-up artist, which seems to give her an edge as she enters this posh lifestyle she is not used to.  As interesting as Emily’s new life is, the real draw for this book is the mysterious apology her mother left for her.  Readers will not be disappointed when the reason behind this apology is revealed.  Overall, this is a fun teenage book with romance and mystery.

Defying the Diva by D. Anne Love

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Age Level:  14 and up

# of Pages:  257

RAC:  Yes

Haley Patterson was a perfectly happy freshman with two best friends and a place writing for the school newspaper.  After she writes something for the paper that the most popular girl in school, Camilla Quinn, takes offense to Haley’s life changes dramatically for the worse.  Camilla spreads vicious rumors about Haley and forbids anyone to talk to her.  Everyone is terrified of Camilla turning on them and suddenly Haley finds herself alone and tortured by everyone all day long.  This bullying takes its toll and by summer vacation she wants to hide out.  When her parents send her to stay with her aunt for the summer, her aunt insists she get a job at a nearby county club.  Haley is unsure of how to make friends anymore and how to trust people in general, but she begins to realize that some of the people she has met over the summer are truly good people who want to get to know her.  Can she let her guard down and become friends with them?  Can she tell her parents or aunt why she had such a difficult spring?  Can she ever return in the fall to face Camilla?

This story discusses bullying from a girl’s perspective.  Nothing physical is ever done to harm Haley, but the mental abuse is just as bad as anything else she could imagine.  The power of peer pressure and the need to fit in and feel accepted is very real and present in every high school.  Haley’s story of despair to hope and eventually revenge is a good story to give those suffering from this type of bullying hope.  However, in many instances students do not have the support system Haley finds.  It’s important for all students to be aware of this type of bullying and to be willing to stand up for those around them that are the victims of it.

Invisible by Pete Hautman

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Age Level:  14 and up

# of Pages:  149 p.

RAC Book:  Yes

Award Winner:  Iowa Teen Award 2009-2010

Doug Hanson is the social outcast of the school.  He has trouble interacting with people, he spies on the prettiest girl in school, and he spends all his time building a train set in his basement.  His parents make him go to counseling even though he doesn’t think he needs it.  The most important thing to him in life is his best friend, Andy, who lives next door.  Doug admits that they have gotten into trouble together in the past, but he doesn’t like to think of those times.  Doug sees Andy as everything he is not.  He plays sports, has lots of friends, and even performs in school plays while Doug fails to interact at school at all.  Doug begins to realize that people including his teachers, parents, and therapist are deeply worried about him.  The question is whether they have a right to be.

There is an aspect of this story that is not immediately apparent, but becomes so fairly quickly.  Most readers will be able to pick up on it early on in the book, which may or may not entice them to keep reading.  It is unclear if this plot element is supposed to be apparent to the reader early on or it if it supposed to be a surprise at the end.  Either way, it is a plot development that has been used quite a big in movies and television.  The character development is strong in this book, but some of their motives seem confusing.  For example, if Doug’s parents are so concerned about his behavior why don’t they try to do more to help him before it is too late?  Readers who liked Laurie Halse Anderson’s Twisted will like this title as well.

Lush by Natasha Friend

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Age Level: 14 and up

# of Pages: 178 p.

RAC Book: Yes

Samantha struggles with the fact that her father is an alcoholic. He is a successful architect who often comes home late or not at all due to his drinking habits. Her mother is constantly making excuses for him and trying to tell her that everything is okay, but Samantha does not believe this and starts to grow distant from him. After a binge he is always apologetic and promising change, but Sam quickly learns that his word means nothing. Her little brother is young enough that he doesn’t understand what is going on, but Sam tries to protect him from it nonetheless. She begins leaving notes for someone in the library she believes might be able to help her, but the person responding to her notes is not who she thinks it is. As she deals with some bullying at school the situation at home continues to get worse. The worst part is that she starts to wonder if she could have the same tendencies as her father.

Alcoholism is a very serious topic for young adults, but this story relates the topic best to teenagers and what it can be like to live with an alcoholic. This book discusses the warning signs, the symptoms, and even the steps needed to begin overcoming this disease. Having said that, it never gets preachy or gives the impression that something of this nature can be fixed quickly. Communication is stressed as being very important to helping a family member work through this problem. A good book about a serious subject.

Endgame by Nancy Garden

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Age Level: 15 and up

# of Pages: 287 p.

RAC Book: NO

Gray Wilton and his family have just moved to a new town partially due to his behavior in the previous town. The book is set up so that Gray recounts the events of the past year to his attorney, but the reader does not know why he needs an attorney for a while. Gray began the school year with a positive attitude. He wanted to have good grades and play drums in the band, but despite his best efforts he becomes the target of some ruthless bullies. If that’s not bad enough, he fights with his father a lot because he does not feel he can be honest with anyone regarding the bullies and therefore gets into other kinds of trouble on his own. As the year goes on, things get worse and worse until Gray feels he must take drastic and disturbing measures.

This book focuses on violence in schools. While some scenes in this book may be a tad dramatic, there are probably many students out there who live life with daily fear of getting made fun of or physically injured at school. Gray’s reluctance to seek help starts to seem difficult to understand as things continue to get worse for him. In the end, it is clear that he has no idea what he has really done and what it means for the rest of his life. This is a powerful story that contains no easy answers, but many questions for adults and teens to consider about this difficult topic.

Crushed by Laura and Tom McNeal

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Age Level: 14 and up

# of pages: 308 p.

RAC Book: Yes

Audrey and her two friends grew up going to a very small school and feel uncomfortable finishing their education in a large high school where gossip and bullying are rampant. They all manage by supporting each other. All of that begins to change when a new boy arrives and begins giving Audrey special attention. He seems enamored with her big house and expensive clothes. Everything goes great until Audrey learns that her life is not as financially stable as she thought it was. At that point, the new boy’s interest in her begins to wane.  At the same time an underground gossip newspaper begins mysteriously appearing in the halls and revealing deep secrets of both students and teachers.

This book highlights some of the many issues facing high school students today such as gossip, bullying, dating, money, friendship, and status.  High school students often feel like nothing can hurt them and believe the best in everyone, but this is also the time when they start to experience how tough it can be to be an adult by facing harsh realities from their families, teachers, and peers.  Audrey thought the worst thing that could happen to her was bullying, but quickly learns that many of the aspects of her life she thought were stable were anything but.  Most high school students will be able to identify with some aspect of Audrey’s life whether it be an unstable homelife, bullying, trouble academically, and betrayal from those close to her.  A powerful, but realistic story.

 

Please Stop Laughing at Me by Jodee Blanco

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Age Level:  14 and up

# of pages:  273

RAC Book:  Yes

This real life tale follows a girl who faced heavy bullying from fifth grade on through high school despite being transferred to two new schools in the process.  Her parents hated seeing her as an outcast and tried everything they could think of to help her fit in including buying her designer clothes and taking her to a psychiatrist.  Unfortunately, the solution offerred by the psychiatrist was to put her on medication and have her try harder to fit in socially.  At the crux of all her problems in every school was her insistance on defending those around her who needed it.  Those people ranged from nerds to physically handicapped students. Every community is different and faces difference kinds of bullying, but it is hard as an adult to look at students picking on those who have disabilities. 

 There are instances where Jodee finds people who are willing to be friends with her, but almost always those people are presssured by the mass to back away again.  If things weren’t bad enough, Jodee also has a physical condition that she is unable to remedy until she turns seventeen.  Of course, once this condition is discovered the students make fun of her even more. 

In the end, Jodee attends her high school reunion, which seems unusual considering she hated these people so much she wrote a book about the experience.  She comes to find that several of those people do not remember what they said or did or pretend like they don’t.  Since Jodee is now very successful they all want to congratulate her and be her friend.  Forgiveness is a powerful virtue, but it seemed almost too easy for Jodee to forgive these people after the physical and emotional abuse she experienced that sent her into a depression in high school.  The fact she is able to share this story will be a comfort to those enduring the same thing and possibly a wake up call for those instigating it.  It’s a powerful story that all teenagers should read and discuss.

 

 

 


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