Saturday, September 7, 2013

Review: Bullying Under Attack

Title: Bullying Under Attack: True Stories Written by Teen Victims, Bullies & Bystanders
Authors: John Meyer, Emily Sperber, Heather Alexander, Stephanie H. Meyer
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: September 3rd 2013
Source: Netgalley & HCI Books


Four and a half stars.

Bullying Under Attack: True Stories Written by Teen Victims, Bullies & Bystanders is a collection of real life stories put together by the publishers of TeenInk magazine. This book approaches a hot button issue, bullying, with a three prong approach, featuring stories from the view points of all three parties- the bully, the victim, and the not so innocent bystanders.


I have to say, no matter how much I read about bullying, be it cyber, physical, or otherwise, I am always blown away. I'm a logical person. I know that these things go on in the world, unfortunately. But books such as this one help me realize how much I took a safe learning space for granted. Teens and kids all over the United States, and the world, are dreading going to school on Monday because it's another week of hell. I can't imagine that feeling, since school was always my safe haven. I'm thankful now, in hindsight, that the (shockingly) public schools that I went to never really tolerated bullying. I'm not going to be so bold as to say it didn't happen at all. Sure it did. But we were always relatively vocal, or maybe our bullies were weak. I'm not really sure.

Reading the stories of these teens who are brave enough to share their stories with the public also makes me grateful that my classmates never chose me as a target, since I was a perfect one- an overweight pagan LGBT goth who smoked and was poor. I never let any of those things define me, and no one else tried to make them define me, and it makes the harsh reality of bullying so much more dramatic for me. Have I been called fat or a dyke on occasion? Sure. But nothing to what these kids have faced.

In addition to narratives about bullying, Bullying Under Attack also features poetry, photography, and other forms of art. I often found these just as sad as the stories, the pain of those who put it to canvas is evident.

What really broke my heart is how many of these stories center around LGBT kids. It's a fact that LGBT kids are more often bullied than their straight peers, but to hear these stories straight from the victims' mouth is an entirely different experience. I have to take this space to say to anyone being bullied, LGBT or otherwise, that it does get better. And if you happen to be a teacher, please take it seriously. The amount of accounts in this collection that have teachers and principals who ignore their suffering is deplorable.

Though this book contains a lot of pain and confession, there is a unified theme of these stories: inspiration. There are victims that stand up for themselves, bystanders who realized how much they were hurting people by staying silent, and bullies that realize how immature and hurtful they were and stop their bullying ways. It carries a message of unity, that if everyone just communicates and works together, bullying can stop and everyone can feel safe.

At the end of this book, there is an extensive list of organizations that readers can turn to if they are being bullied to get help or even just realize that they're not alone. This list also includes books and movies on the topic of bullying. I think this is a very helpful resource to include, and sincerely hope that those who need it will utilize it.

I also found that this book had great variety. In addition to the different "roles" of bullying that were represented, things such as orientation, race, and religion were also well spread throughout the collection, making it a well-rounded book of narratives.

The only thing that I had a hang up with is that some of the submissions included in this collection seemed to be less of stories and more along the lines of just statements of opposing bullying. While I agree wholeheartedly that bullying needs to stop, those bits didn't really add any insight and kind of broke the flow of the other submissions.

Anyone who was every bullied can learn something from this book. Anyone who has bullied can learn something from this book. Anyone thinking that they're innocent while staying quiet can learn something from this book. I especially recommend it for high schoolers, middle schoolers, and teachers of any grade level. Bullying is serious. Words you shoot out without thinking can stay with someone for life. And once you post something on the internet it's there forever. Cyberbullying is still bullying. This book contains some serious topics like suicide, self-harm, sexuality, eating disorders, and mild profanity.

Thanks to Netgalley and HCI Books for my copy, and thanks to the contributors of this book. You're all very strong for telling your stories to the nation.


  1. I would very much like to read this book, as you well know it's a very personal subject for me. This review is amazing, an I only want the book more because of it.

    1. I think you'd connect to it more than I did.

  2. I am glad that you haven't had to deal with this issue. Unfortunately, I have dealt with it since age 5. I've been bullied in school because of my weight since that age. I've been pushed, shoved, and mostly verbally abused by my peers all my life. I guess it is not a surprise that I would become a nurse that worked with mental health patients and help them deal with these same issues. What I would say to the person who thinks it is fun to "tease" someone because they are "different" is: It is not fun to the other person and it will more than likely stay with them for the rest of their life in some way or another.

    1. It's only recently come to my attention just how fortunate I am to have had it mildly. I can't even begin to imagine that tolls it takes on those who encounter bullying to such harsh degrees daily. Hell, I can remember the few remarks I've heard said to/about me like they were said a moment ago. It's really sad how much of this goes on, and how much worse it's gotten with the help of social networks and anonymity on the internet. It breaks my heart that in this day and age kids are bullied for having a different lifestyle or hair color or whatever it may be, and I hate that teachers and those meant to help can so easily turn a blind eye to what's happening right under their noses.

  3. I'm with you on the Jillyn - I managed to have a relatively fine time in high school, and I've only realized recently that bullying happened at all in my school. It was really eye opening, and a bit heart breaking, especially as it involved some of my friends who were too embarrassed to tell anyone about it. And I feel the average person HASN'T been bullied and needs to be reminded it is a real issue with real consequences. Having a book like this out is amazing!

    1. Oh, that's so sad. And I agree, more people need to realize that this is taking place around them. This book will definitely make an impact, I feel. More people need to realize that they're not facing this alone.