Mini-reviews: Books about bullying

I’m way behind in my reviews because as I’ve said, I’ve been reading (yay!) but not really writing (booo). So here are two books that I read around the same time, both having to do with bullying.

9780812992809Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy by Emily Brazelon
Published by Random House

It’s been quite a while since I read this one so I have to admit that my memory of it is pretty fuzzy. I do know that it is an impeccably researched, very thorough, sometimes unconventional look at bullying. Brazelon is very clear on what bullying is, what bullying is not, and how it has changed over the years, especially in today’s age of social media and of everything being on the internet. I found Brazelon’s exploration of three individual high school students who had been heavily involved in a bullying situations fascinating and quite surprising. I found her insights and conclusions very compelling and I came away with more questions than answers, but I think that’s a good thing. It shows that she opened my mind and gave me even more to think about than I already did on this subject. I would highly recommend Sticks and Stones for educators and parents.

Reconstructing Amelia By Kimberly McCreightReconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
Published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins
Review copy received at SIBA

This was one of my most-anticipated books from SIBA and I have to admit that the novel didn’t completely blow me away like it did for some readers. If you haven’t already heard about this one, basically working single mom Kate gets the news that Amelia, her well-behaved, happy, teenage daughter, has committed suicide by jumping off the roof of her school. Kate is shocked, horrified, in complete despair, but even more so when she gets a text that tells her that Amelia did not jump. What follows is Kate’s desperate search to find out what happened to her daughter, interspersed with flashbacks from Amelia’s life, in which the reader gets to know the real Amelia, and slowly is able to put together the puzzle of what really happened to her and why.

So, I really did like it. I was interested and excited and couldn’t put the book down. But I couldn’t decide what McCreight was trying to say about working single moms – was Kate not being there for her daughter a bad thing? Was the author blaming Kate for working too much and not being around for Amelia? And also, the answers at the end were slightly outside of the realm of being believable. Just slightly. But those quibbles aside, I think I had trouble with this one simply because I was expecting to love it. And those darn expectations got in my way, as they tend to do. I would still highly recommend this one, though, as the writing is great, the story is intense, and it’s one that readers can fly right through – it’s that exciting and compelling. While I didn’t love it, I would still recommend Reconstructing Amelia.


6 thoughts on “Mini-reviews: Books about bullying”

  1. Wow, these both sound fascinating (for different reasons). I think Reconstructing Amelia sounds like the sort of dramatic fiction I’d really enjoy…your review definitely made me curious, despite your reservations!

  2. Hi Heather,

    First off, thanks so much for reading and for your thoughtful review. I truly appreciate it. I also appreciate your insightful questions. In particular, there’s one that has come up before elsewhere so I thought I’d answer. Hope that’s okay!

    “Was the author blaming Kate for working too much and not being around for Amelia?”

    No, quite the opposite in fact. I think that Kate was a wonderful mother–an opinion I have found that not all readers share. As a working mother myself (though with a mercifully much more flexible schedule and a partner to share duties with) I have enormous empathy for her. A heartbreaking amount, in fact.

    To say more, would involve spoilers, but I wish I could. Anyway, thanks so much for the opportunity to answer! Hope you have a lovely summer.

    All the best,

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