The Bully Book – Eric Kahn Gale

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The rules governing middle school are often a mystery, but for Eric Haskins, they’re a mystery he needs to solve, and fast. He’s a normal, average kid, until sixth grade starts. For some inexplicable reason, the class bully and his pack make Eric the Grunt. Even his best friend since first grade turns on him. Eric can’t figure out why he’s the Grunt until he hears about the Bully Book, a cryptic guide that teaches you how to “make trouble without getting in trouble, rule the school and be the man” and how to select the Grunt-the kid who will become the lowest of the low. 

Eric Haskins may be this year’s Grunt for now, but he’s determined not to stay at the bottom of the social ladder forever. Hilarious and compelling, The Bully Book is a must-read for every tween, tween parent, librarian and educator!

 

Eric Haskins has just started 6th grade. Up till now, he’s been perfectly normal. He’s had good friends, even a best friend, Donovan. He’s done pretty will at school, he’s never been bullied or gotten into any real fights. Life has always been pretty good for Eric. Of course, that all changed the moment he walked into his 6th grade homeroom class and was labeled the “Grunt.”

What exactly is the “Grunt?” That’s exactly the question that Eric wants to know. Everyone liked him before, so why all of a sudden is he the social outcast? Now, Eric is being constantly bullied by people he’s never even met. He’s being beat up, picked on, humiliated. Poor Eric has got some real trouble on his hands, and he doesn’t even know what he did to cause it.

On a mission to find out what the “Grunt” truly is, he starts to investigate. Shockingly enough, Eric soon learns that he’s not the only Grunt around! In fact, there seems to be one for pretty much every grade level starting after sixth grade. Teaming up with his fellow grunts, Eric sets out to find out exactly why he’s the grunt, what made him the grunt, and how to stop his tormenters and ruin their Bully Book once and for all.

 

The Bully Book was very hard for me to pick up,  because I’ve experienced some of the bullying and trauma that Eric was subjected to. I felt like I was going to be placing myself into an unsafe situation which made me a little uncomfortable. Once I picked up The Bully Book, I finished it in an entire setting. I read The Bully Book in under 4 hours, which is the fastest I have read any book since elementary school.

Eric’s story was so realistic that it simply broke my heart throughout most of the entire book. Bullying is a very real thing that goes on in this world, especially in public schools, which is something that Eric Kahn Gale portrayed very nicely. I was captivated from the very first journal entry, and it lasted until the very last page.

One thing that I loved about this book, and it’s probably going to offend some, is how realistic Eric Kahn Gale portrayed the teacher’s in this story. Many teachers out there do not stand up for their student’s who are being bullied. They ignore it, don’t notice it, blame the victim, etc. Is that harsh? Maybe, but that’s what I experienced. I never had a teacher stand up for me, and I went to many different schools. Many teacher’s will not do anything unless the student who is being bullied directly confronts the teacher about it. Why should the student have to say anything? Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are plenty of cases out there where the teacher’s really don’t know that bullying is going on. However, there are MANY cases where they should know. It’s not the student’s responsibility to ask for help. It’s the teacher’s job, and they need to stand up for their student’s.

The substitute teacher in The Bully Book made me so mad. I just wanted to jump into the story and throttle that stupid woman. If student’s were using their vocabulary words to harass another student right in front of me, I would do something about it. I would get student’s suspended or expelled over that, because bullying is NEVER acceptable. NEVER. I was really offended for Eric, and I wish just one person would have really stood up for him.

Another thing that bothered me during The Bully Book were the parents. A parent should know when their child is miserable. They should know when something is wrong. You may not want to admit to yourself that your child is being bullied, but odds are that it has happened at least once. You need to ask your children how other student’s treat them. It doesn’t matter that it’s an uncomfortable conversation or if your child gets angry that you brought it up. What matters is that you took an interest and made sure that they were safe. I honestly, for a large part of this book, thought that Eric was going to commit suicide from the torture that he was receiving. Never once did an adult take an interest in him. Never once did his mom say, “Eric, is everything alright at school?” And his dad? His dad laughed! Not at the fact that Eric was being bullied, but he turned bullying into some sort of joke. It’s not a joke. It’s not funny. It’s actually rather disgusting. And the parent’s in this book disgusted me even more.

I was hoping for a little bit more with Melody, Donovan and Colin, three of the main characters in The Bully Book. Donovan had been Eric’s best friend since the first grade, and, all of a sudden, he hated Eric. He went along with Eric being the grunt and he turned into a complete and utter asshole. I was hoping to see a change in Donovan, and I didn’t. I also wanted to see more interaction between Eric and Donovan. It didn’t matter if it was good or bad interaction, but I really feel that their story is unfinished.

I absolutely despised Melody’s character. Melody played a good friend to Eric, and he also had a really big crush on her. Melody ends up dating the guy who labeled Eric the Grunt, and she watches him get beat up and bullied and doesn’t do anything about it. This is actually very common. I understand that these are sixth graders, but sixth graders are not babies. They know right from wrong, and Melody was definitely in the wrong almost 100% of the time. She’s lucky she wasn’t my kid, because I would have never put up with that. I just wish that we had seen a little more interaction between Melody and Eric towards the end of the book. They definitely have a lot to hash out, and we didn’t get to see that. I’m not sure if there will be a second book, but there’s a lot in The Bully Book that needs to be resolved and finished out.

Then we come to poor, little Colin. Colin was my absolute favorite character, and only a slightly lesser geek in the sixth grade population than Eric. He was so sweet and lovable, and I wish we would have seen Eric and Colin grow into very close friends. That’s what I expected to happen from the beginning, and I was very disappointed that that didn’t happen. I wasn’t very thrilled with how Eric treated Colin, and I really hope to gain the opportunity to watch Eric apologize and have them grow into very close friends.

This book definitely hit a lot of my triggers. If you’ve been bullied, then The Bully Book might be a little difficult for you to read. The messages in it are amazing, though, and I definitely think that everyone should give it a chance. Most importantly, I think that people who haven’t been bullied or people who have bullied other people should read this book. It’s important that you know how you’re making others feel when you pick on them. It’s not ok, and it’s not something that I will or would ever forgive. Bullying is a big issue in America and it needs to stop. The Bullying Book was an amazing read that took me on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. My heart broke, my eyes welled with tears, and I swear my blood pressure rose massive amounts. I got angry, sad, happy, fearful….all these emotions that I can’t even describe to you guys. I definitely will be looking out for more work by Eric Kahn Gale. Great book!

 

Pages: 240

Publication Date: December 26th, 2012

Publisher: HarperCollins

Rating: [rating: 3.5]

 

Teaser Quote: “I hate the Bully Book and I hate the Grunt.”

“Stop making fun of Colin. It makes you sound like an idiot. And stop calling people gay. I don’t even know why that’s an insult. There are real gay people in the world, you know, and there’s nothing wrong with them. Calling someone gay, like it’s a bad thing, is like calling someone a dentist- it doesn’t make any freaking sense!”( Pg 139 ARC)