Zaneta Vincent Vincent itibaren Lashany, Beyaz Rusya
What a great storyteller!
Things I learned from reading Bystander: 1. Bullying in middle school is a serious, scary, bloody business. 2. Never, under any circumstances, tell an adult (parent, teacher, principal, counselor, or school police officer) the truth about being bullied. Adults are idiots. 3. Hide the truth and lie about being bullied. 4. The best way to beat a bully is to sink to his level and beat him at his own game breaking any laws necessary in the process. 5. And always remember, as long as the bully leaves YOU alone - everything is good. Is it just me or is there something wrong here? Bystander is yet another YA novel that has me cheering the author for his brave realistic storytelling and mentally ordering class sets to use in class only to slap me in the face with a poorly constructed, nonsensical ending. Author James Preller actually goes a bit farther than disappointing - he edges into irresponsible. The central theme in Bystander is supposedly that bullying is wrong and bearing witness as a bystander to bullying is wrong. Chapter after chapter Preller paints a realistic, sometimes brutal portrait of how Eric, the new boy in town, deals with the challenges of fitting in at a new school while being a sometimes target and sometimes "friend" of Griffin, a seventh grade sociopath. Griffin isn't your average middle school bully; this kid is dangerous. Griffin is a modern day Eddie Haskell mixed with Ted Bundy. Good looking and charismatic, he purposely works to convince adults that he is harmless and trustworthy by carrying groceries for the elderly on Saturdays at the grocery store (for the tips) and showing real interest and concern for the school lunch supervisor (who is oddly "loaded"). Griffin also orchestrates a severe attack on Eric at the local pet cemetery, the most graphic, realistic beating I've ever read in a YA novel, never getting his own hands dirty preferring to get his cronies to deliver the blows while enjoying from the sidelines and maintaining his own "innocence." Adding to Griffin's bully resume is his PINS officer (presumably a juvenile probation/social worker) and his collection of trophies from his crimes and bullying episodes! Three quarters of Bystander had me completely hooked. I hoped to have a great novel to recommend to my seventh grade students, a novel with genuine characters dealing with bullying in a way that students could use as a blueprint for handling their own issues. Unfortunately, Eric's bizarre solution to defeating Griffin is to beat him at his own game. He breaks into Griffin's house while his abusive father is home, steals back $27 and a burned CD that Griffin had stolen from him and nearly gets caught by Griffin's dad leaving evidence behind proving that he was there. Eric does exactly what we as teachers and parents hope bullied kids never do: he plays the bully's game. He never tells adults the real truth about being bullied or being a bystander. He breaks the law. He involves a friend in his crime. He keeps all of Griffin's dangerous secrets leaving him free to move on to his next victims. Griffin never gets punished for the horrible things he does. In fact, he just finds a new group of "friends" and will, of course, continue his bullying behaviors. But, that is fine with Eric, as long has he is no longer in Griffin's sights, Eric will just concentrate on the basketball team and his new girlfriend. Griffin is clearly a villain; however, the most disturbing character in Bystander might be Eric, our hero. Young adult readers will understand that Griffin is a bad guy, but I'm not sure that they will understand that Eric's choices are irresponsible and dangerous. I fear that Bystander may contribute to the bullying cycle of secrecy instead of helping to prevent it by convincing kids that they can tell trusted adults when they are victims or bystanders and need not resort to vigilantism. I will not be recommending this novel to my students.
Mostly really liked but the set-in-the-future part at the end was way to gimmicky for me.