I don’t think anyone who reads this review can possibly disagree with the following statement: it is incredibly difficult to be in middle school no matter whether you are “popular,” a “loser” or in between. In the THE BULLY BOOK, however, there are no in-betweeners: you are either in or you are out. Unfortunately for Eric Haskins, the kids in charge of deciding who is cool and who is not have deemed him to be not. Eric struggles to get used to the fact that suddently everyone in his class is mercilessly picking on him, and to make matters worse, one of his main tormentors used to be his best friend! But when Eric hears that the bullies in his class may be in possession of a book that will tell him exactly why he was chosen as the class Grunt and how they turned his class against him, he begins a mission to search for it.
"The ultimate lesson Eric learns...is an inspiring one, and one that will probably make anyone who has been the victim of bullying feel a bit brighter."
THE BULLY BOOK is a middle school mystery novel in more ways than one. The main storyline is told through Eric’s journal entries and follows him as he tries to figure out where the Bully Book is and who originally wrote it. But his journal entries alternate with chapters from the Bully Book itself for reasons that are not entirely clear until the very end of the story. For anyone who has been bullied, it might be hard to read about how badly Eric’s classmates treat him and how isolated he feels from everyone around him, including his mother. But no matter what, it is very easy to sympathize with Eric as he tries to survive in a classroom where everyone is his enemy, especially because he does not just let them bully him, but instead, tries his best to find a way to stop it. THE BULLY BOOK is a very interesting read, and after you are done, you will be left thinking about Eric’s story for quite a while.
However, even though I liked the character of Eric Haskins a lot, and I thought the idea of a book that trains bullies and is passed down through the years to be an interesting concept, it is just not realistic! (And that is a good thing because I would never want a book that trains bullies to actually exist.) Bullying is an awful device that many middle schoolers are able to use pretty well without a book’s instructions, and so imagining a book that does teach a person how to bully isn’t really dealing with the way bullying works in real life. Despite this, the ultimate lesson Eric learns (one that I won’t spoil for you in this book!) is an inspiring one, and one that will probably make anyone who has been the victim of bullying feel a bit brighter.
Reviewed by Erin Allen on November 18, 2012
The Bully Book