29 October 2010 ~ 0 Comments

eBully by Dave Conifer

This is one of those subjects that you wish didn’t need attention. In fact, the whole thing kind of makes you ill. I think bullying is probably one subject that nearly everyone can identify with. Whether it was in school, at home, at work or with friends, we have all known a bully or two, many of us up close and personal.

For those of us that are 30-something, our schoolyard bullies were much different. We knew their faces and we knew what the danger was. These days, bullies are faceless. They lurk in cyberspace where they feel braver. Brave enough to say and do things that we could only imagine. They don’t have to face you during lunch and call you names, they can broadcast it to the entire school with a few keystrokes.

The author does a wonderful job handling such a difficult subject. He handles it in such a way that I would encourage those with teenagers to talk to your kids about the book and let them read it. There’s nothing too graphic in here and it’s a great young adult (middle school level) book. The only way to combat situations like this is to talk about them and talk loudly. Kids need to know that it’s okay to “tell” their parents and it’s NOT okay to let a bully get away with it.

The storyline flowed very well. The author didn’t go off on any tangents where I felt the need to read through the pages and pull him back on track. He was able to keep the story going while still keeping the character development on point. I actually stayed up way too late one night trying to finish this one but ended up giving it up until the next day. Well worth the lost sleep though!

I’m giving this four stars, it loses a star because some of the dialogue was a bit stilted. Interestingly enough, I felt the adults were the problem. The kids seem to feel more true, but the adults – especially the vice principal seemed too rehearsed in parts. I realize the author wanted to get information to us with some of the dialogue, but it felt too forced.

Having said that, it doesn’t detract from the story and I would recommend this to all middle and high school students AND their parents. In these days of every kid having a cell phone, I think it’s an important subject to broach with your kids and this is a great way to start that conversation.

Note: The ending was changed in mid-October 2010. From what I read, I think it was for the better. I was completely okay with this ending, but not sure I would have been with the previous.

Vice Principal Steve Lukather is desperate. Just like last year, an internet bully is terrorizing one of his students at Lakeland Middle School. Last time it ended badly when the victim was found with two slashed wrists after an attempted suicide. This year, after a series of nasty computer messages and an indiscreet photograph of Carly Gillette spread through the student body Lukather knows it’s happening again. This time he’s determined to stop the bully in his tracks before Gillette ends up reaching for a razor blade.

Thirteen-year-old Scott Halifax has a juvy rap sheet that could peel wallpaper but he’s just what Lukather needs — a street-smart, tech-savvy kid with no roots. Lukather makes a deal with Halifax: go undercover as a student at Lakeland and nail the bully in return for a ticket out of the County Detention Center and a clean slate.

Once he’s in at Lakeland Halifax teams up with Tom Seidel, the nerdy kid that everyone loves to hate. It isn’t long before Scott, Tom and Carly’s best friend Lisa are working together. It takes a lot of hard work, some sly computer sleuthing and a little dumb luck before they expose the bully. And it’s the last person that anybody would have suspected.

eBully draws on recent headlines about cyber-bullying, including the need to update harassment and stalking laws to reflect new technologies.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Book count for 2010: 86

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