I remember three books I’ve read about bullying in the past. In all three, the victims were boys.

In William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, Piggy is an obvious victim. He’s obese, he wears thick glasses and he says all the wrong things. He remains that way to the bitter end.

Marcus, in Nick Hornby’s About a Boy, is a bit strange. I loved this book but was disappointed in the end when Marcus stopped being strange with no transition from one state to the other.

In Nineteen Minutes, Jodi Picoult does a great job of portraying Peter, the boy who has taken as much as he can and gets his revenge by going on a shooting spree. (I’m not giving anything away because this happens right at the beginning.) When it comes to Josie, the plot becomes unbelievable, in my view, but that’s another topic.

Jeff Gardiner‘s Myopia, which I read recently, has a much more believable plot. It’s aimed at young adults, and so I had to get used to the style, but it works very well and definitely held my interest.

And yet I was disappointed when I finished it. Jerry, the victim, seemed too normal. The bullying eventually turned him into a hero. It all seemed too easy.

Then my vision cleared as I realised what my problem was. This story isn’t my story. It’s very different. But that doesn’t make it any less valid. In fact, it’s probably more typical than mine. And all stories about bullying serve a useful purpose in helping readers to understand what bullying does.

Well done, Jeff, for tackling this difficult topic in such a sensitive way.

***

Writing the above list made me realise that I’ve never read a book about a girl who is bullied. Have you? Can you recommend one?

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I took Nick Hornby’s About a Boy out of the library. Yes, I know it’s from the last century, but it looked as if it might be interesting and it was – most of it.

As the blurb says, it’s really about two boys, one of twelve who acts too old for his age and one of thirty-six who needs to grow up. I identified with the twelve-year-old, but not because I ever acted older than my age. It’s because the boy didn’t fit in at school and was therefore bullied.

I enjoyed following the characters of this story, and especially the two main characters. I found their motivations believable and interesting. And I enjoyed the humour throughout. But I was disappointed by the ending.

Firstly, on page 265 out of 278, there is a typo. It says “Ruth” where I’m pretty sure it should say “Katrina.” Not very important, but that seems to herald the bad ending.

What happens at the end is what’s supposed to happen in all good stories. The characters change. The man becomes an adult and the boy becomes a normal boy who is no longer bullied. For me, it all happens too quickly. I don’t believe that the boy’s life could have changed so fast. I want to see how it happens. I want the author to show me the process.

But he doesn’t and I’m disappointed, even though I enjoyed reading 264 278ths of the book. That’s 95%.