Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Bullied by Jeff Erno
Dreamspinner Press
158 Pages
5 out of 5
No PL Scale

Every day, all over the country, teenagers struggle with the realities of bullying. Tormented, ridiculed, and beaten—simply for being who they are—these teens face alienation, humiliation, and even the explicit assertion that they have somehow brought this upon themselves, that they should just blend in. Bullied is a series of short stories exploring the world of these teens from several different viewpoints: the victim, the bully, the gay bystander, the straight friend, the concerned parent.

Closeted Bryan wonders why Christian Michaelson doesn't just try to blend in if he hates being bullied so much. Star athlete David isn't a homophobe—after all, he's not afraid of anything. Jonathan, a Christian fundamentalist, must weigh the Bible against peer pressure and what he knows is right when he discovers his childhood friend is gay. Bully victim Chase Devereaux finds an unexpected ally in a brave fellow student. A single mom struggles to accept the reality that her only son is gay. Two tough gay teens are forced to confront their own inner demons when tragedy befalls a classmate they failed to help. And overweight Kirby finds the strength of character to make a friend, which leads to a lifestyle change and a chance at love. Each character grows as an individual as he or she comes to terms with what it means to be a gay teenager in America.

This book played on every emotion, every single one of them. The strongest emotion I felt was anger; because there are so many young people going through these same issues that Jeff expresses so wonderfully in this book of short stories. He manages to capture everything in these stories, with an underlying of hope and most of all love. I cried through out reading the entire book, and I commend Jeff in sharing issues facing LGBT youth.

Jeff possesses a gift. A gift of connecting to the reader and making you feel for all his characters. I never cry for any other books as much as I do for a Jeff Erno book. In Bullied all seven of these wickedly emotional stories had me in tears, whether from sadness or from pure joy.

The Stories: Blending In, Chuckie, Saved, Different, Invisible, Shame, Kirby.  All these stories could have been a repetitive mess, but instead each story offers up a variety of content. Though the victims all seem familiar, in the end it’s a realistic view on what some people might think “a male should not be”. Because males are supposed to be tough, grow 6ft tall, and play extreme sports (gimme a break).
What makes this book truly special is the talent the author has to make each character believable.  From the bully, to the victim, or the mom trying to wrap her mind around her son being gay. It was like reading a story about real people, and their struggles. Though you might think. Man, this book sounds depressing. This book mostly is about friendship, love and the power to overcome all.

I have to say Kirby is my favourite story in the bunch. The fat kid who was bullied, by none other than someone who claims to be his best-friend. After being humiliated and made to feel horrible about himself. Kirby still came out on top. Loved it so much. My least favourite (not because it sucked) and the saddest (the reason) of them all is Different Different manages to touch on gay hierarchy, where another gay person feels that they are better than the other is. I guess if we are going to stop discrimination, we need to start on the inside. Different was very hard for me read, and though the ending is optimistic, still left an ache in my heart.

Overall, I recommend this read. One of these stories is guaranteed to resonate with its reader. You might really love one or you might love them all. I can honestly say this is one powerful book.

Reviewed for Three Dollar Bill Reviews

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