Posts Tagged 'bullying'



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?

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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.

 


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