Friday, December 31, 2010

January Book of the Month

In The Bully by Paul Langan, freshman Darrell Mercer and his mother are moving to California against Darrell's wishes. Darrell, small and skinny for 15, expects the worst at his new school and gets it: kids act uncaring, unfriendly, and even hostile toward him. Darrell's biggest problem is Tyray, who immediately starts making Darrell's life miserable. Tyray pushes Darrell around every chance he gets, humiliating Darrell and extorting money from him.

Because of Tyray, Darrell dreads every day of school. Home life gets complicated as Darrell lies to his mom about his troubles and starts seeing himself and Tyray in his two younger cousins. Pressure builds as Darrell struggles to respect himself and not hurt the girl he likes while keeping Tyray's bullying a secret from everyone. But Darrell's anger and hurt won't stay bottled inside him forever. Darrell has to decide whether he can stop running and end Tyray's hold on him.

The Bully tells of a normal kid trying to fight his way out of helplessness. Darrell's trouble echoes the suffering too many young people have lived through both in and out of school. His story feels real, from the little tortures that Tyray carries out to the way Darrell tries to keep himself together and finally deals with his situation. Paul Langan captures the fury and shame that anyone would feel over dealing with a bully and the frustration that pushes a person into action.