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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cornered - Edited by Rhoda Belleza

Released by July 2012

Running Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

One of the taglines for Cornered, a collection of 14 stories about bullying, is:  "How will you survive the day?" I think many who have lived through or attended high school understand that.This collection can, at times, be difficult reading. I'd like to think that times have changed, but I know they really haven't. Two stories in particular stood out.

In Jennifer Brown's But Not Forgotten, I've been in those girl's shoes. The book details a couple of girls who make a suicide pact because they're bullied for being overweight. I sympathized with them, as I've been there. In my day, the insult of choice was "swamp cow," and it always preceded the moos that followed the girls down the hallways. Teachers did nothing to stop it. In high school, I lost 40 pounds getting down to a smaller size than many of the bullies, and here's the fact for any teen that reads this, that didn't stop them. Instead it became, "Remember when you looked like such a swamp cow..." The good news is that karma did catch up with at least one of my bullies.

How Auto-Tune Saved My Life is another story I related to. Brendan Halpin's tale of a class bullied by their teacher rang true, but not from my years as a student, it's as my time as a parent. Last year, I had one student in my car pool who endured many of the same things the young man in this story faced. The high five that accidentally goes awry leading to a suspension for physical violence, that really does happen.  There's another situation that hit our high school where a student put his best friend's head on David Hasselhoff's body and put it up on Facebook. Both boys thought it was hilarious, including the friend, but the school called it bullying and suspended the one who created the picture.

There are a dozen other stories ranging from kids who are bullied for being gay to teens who bully out of anger at their life situation. Each story is heartfelt and gets you thinking. I hope every school adds this to their library and urges kids to read it and change.

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