Erno, Jeff. “Bullied”, Dreamspinner Press, 2011.
Looking at Bullying
All of us are aware of the devastating results of bullying and we have had an awful year with what has happened to several of the younger community in the last year. When a young man or woman is already marginalized by society, bulling can be what pushes him over the edge. Jeff Erno looks at bullying in his new book and shows us just how terrible and even fatal it can be. “Bullying” is a collection of short stories about those teens and what makes it so interesting is that the stories are written from different perspectives and viewpoints so we really get a look at the issue. We become really aware of the damage that hate and fear can do and the writer dedicates the book to the many who have suffered from bullying and I am sure that all of us will find relatable and interesting ideas here. The time has come to be not only aware but ready to step in should we see bullying. Erno’s book also gives us a bit education about bullying and seeing from the point of view of the bully, the bullied, parents, the bystander and the friend shows how we react.
“Invisible” gives us the voice of the bullied. He is bullied in gym class and on the same day he is to give a presentation in his speech class. Chase Devereaux is fifteen and the bullying is not only an embarrassment to him but it is even worse because the guy that Chase loves from a far actually saw what went on.
The bully is the voice of “Chuckie” and this story is about David, a popular high school jock and it bothers him that Charlie, a classmate is so weak. David irritates Charlie all of the time and lets him know that the s the man in charge. However David finds out that there is some kind of connection between him and a mutual friend and things change.
All of us have been in the position of being a bystander watching something happen that we know is wrong yet we do nothing about it. In “Blending In”, Bryan Daniels is a gay teen himself and a bystander as he stands by and watches as Chris, a gay classmate is continuously bullied. He feels bad for Chris yet he also understands, or thinks he does, that Chris has brought this upon himself by being open and flaunting his homosexuality. Bryan chooses not to become involved and thinks that if he comes to Chris’s defense that he, himself, could become the next to be abused.
“Shame” is from the perspective of a parent; Terri Tyler has two teenage children. Cameron, her son, is a good kid while Cam is a sensitive kid who is refined and Terri always felt that he was something special. Terri is a modern woman, open-minded and comfortable around her gay friends. However when she learns that Cam is the victim of bullying at school, she is very concerned and worried about him and she begins to fear that what is happening might be because he is gay.
“Saved” looks at Jonathan and Curtis who go to a Christian school. They have been best friends and this is their story. Jonathan always tried to be one of the guys and he plays on the soccer team. He sees some of his friends bullying Curtis and he thinks that he can’t do anything. He knows that he and Curtis no longer think alike and looking back he does not understand why they were ever friends. He thinks Curtis is a nerd and it is not his job to take up for him.
Calden, Rick and Tina are three gay teens and their stories are in “Different” and we learn how they have been able to deal with being different. Calden, however, has never really developed the way to deal with others and he feels left out and this feeds his bullies. Things get really bad for him and he is desperate and it is at this point that Rick and Tina are there for him and we can only hope that there is time to save him.
Being set apart for being gay is bad enough but when a kid is gay and fat, he has a hard time dealing with others. This is the case of Kirby who is the central character in the story of the same name. He tries to ignore all those who abuse him and if it were not for Tony, his best friend, we would have lost Kirby long ago. Tony just does not feel that he can be the kind of friend that Kirby needs and he must find his own inner strength to deal with the bullying.
Jeff Erno is to be commended for not only writing these stories but for the approaches that he has used. We all should be as brave as our author here. His stories are very real and deal with problems that are too real. The book is like a floodlight in a wilderness showing us how to leave the area and find new hope and understanding. Together we can out an end to bullying and one way to do this is to have more books like this. Everything about this book is excellent and I must also compliment the cover.