Monday, January 31, 2011
Bystander by James Preller
I heard about this book through my new friends on Twitter and I knew I had to buy it. It is much like Egghead but a little darker.
The story is about a boy named Eric who has moved to a new school in grade 7. I can't imagine a worse year to start over. Things for Eric are tough- his dad has disappeared and as much as Eric wants to forget about him, he can't. Eric has slowly started making friends with the 'cool' gang at school- led by Griffin. Eric thinks something is a little off about Griffin, but because he always has lots of people around him, Eric finds himself just happy to belong. Soon Griffin starts picking on David- an awkward boy who also wants to fit in. Eric feels that because he isn't doing anything- he isn't at fault. Deep down, Eric knows it isn't right and slowly he starts to separate himself from Griffin and his friends. By doing this, Eric has isolated himself from the other kids at school, but Griffin is now targeting him. Eric has to figure out how to live a life he can be proud of and still have friends while keeping away from Griffin.
I found the start of this book to be very dark and a bit scary. Teaching grade 7, I really hope the kids aren't like this to each other, but I admit I'm not really sure. The voices of these boys ring very true to kids I know and teach. Reading how the teachers deal with the issues of bullying is a little worrisome too. I'm not totally sure what can be done with these kids that are being bullied when nobody will admit what is happening. Kids are so good at spinning the truth and so many parents can't believe their child would do something like this that it is really hard to know what to do. I can see using this book as a read aloud- although I like Egghead better- and I'm not sure if reading two books on the same topic would be a great idea. It is certainly something to think about. Either way, it is a great book for my classroom library!