Melodye Shore was beaten and clawed by a mob of girls in a high school bathroom. Her offense: taking an uneaten apple from a trash can when she’d lost her free lunch ticket and knew she wouldn’t make it through an afternoon of classes without something to eat.
“A headache throbs at my temples,” Shore writes of that day. “When I rake my fingers through my knotted hair, I pull away clots of blood. The wounds on my arms hurt like hell. Each jagged breath is more painful than the last—never mind the soul-scorching insults still ringing in my eyes.”
Shore escaped through the exit to the cafeteria, blood running down her arms and face as she leaned against the school building. It’s there that a girl whose family immigrated to the area, Luz, finds her. Luz takes Shore to her home, where she cleans Shore’s wounds and her family feeds her. And though their friendship wasn’t meant to last—by spring, Luz’s family will have moved to another area for work—Shore will never forget what it meant to have someone reach out to her in a school where no one else seemed to care about her. “I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to translate into words the sense of belonging I (felt),” she writes.
Shore’s essay is one of 70 featured in a new anthology called ‘Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Story,’ written by young adult and children’s authors who were bullied, watched as classmates were picked on or humiliated, or were the bullies themselves. It’s a book that Chicagoland teens could relate to and learn from, no matter their social status—and a book that Chicagoland educators could use as a resource, as a writing prompt in English classes, and more.
One of the authors, Lauren Oliver will speak at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville on Wed., Oct. 26, at 7 p.m. to promote her latest release, ‘Liesl and Po.’
About the Book
The idea for ‘Dear Bully’ came about when young adult author Carrie Jones (‘Need,’ ‘Girl, Hero,’ ‘Love (and Other Uses for Duct Tape’), who was bullied as a child, learned what Phoebe Prince, a 15-year-old Massachusetts girl who killed herself in 2010 after being tormented by girls in her high school, had gone through in the weeks before her death. Jones used her blog to encourage other young adult authors to take a stand against bullying. She and young adult author Megan Kelley Hall started a Facebook group, “Young Adult Authors Against Bullying.” Soon, the group came up with the idea for an anthology—and hundreds of authors submitted essays. ‘Dear Bully’ was published in September 2011; the essays that were not included in the book will be featured online.
“There are truths in every single story that resonate,” Jones writes on her blog about ‘Dear Bully.’ “Those truths are that pain is real, that actions and words can shatter us, that it’s hard to remember how awesome you are when people are telling you that you aren’t.”
The book has generated national buzz. Interviews with authors for the book recently were featured on NPR (listen to the interviews), and stories about the anthology have been featured in Glamour, USA Today, PBS Kids, and more.
What makes ‘Dear Bully’ such an important book for teens, parents, and educators are the deeply personal and painful accounts its authors share about what it’s like to be bullied, to be the bully, or to be witness to the cruel attacks—verbal and physical—suffered by their classmates.
Hall recalls the girls in high school—her friends among them—who “could cut you down so fast, you didn’t even see it coming,” and fears for her daughter in a world where rumors and mean remarks spread even more quickly through social media and texting. Hall thought she’d left the world of “backstabbing among friends” behind when she graduated from high school and entered college. Instead, her college roommate turned against her.
Amy Goldman Koss remembers the power she wielded in sixth grade and how she used it to torment a girl named Carol: “If I got right up in her face and accused her of terrible things, and said mean, horrible things about her, every part of her froze, except for her eyes,” Koss writes. She knew that what she was doing to Carol was wrong—and that was part of the thrill. “After a few minutes of tormenting Carol, I felt a sort of peace as my heart calmed back down and the sweat on my hands tickled and evaporated.”
Aprilynne Pike, best-selling author of the YA series ‘Wings,’ writes that she sees a boldness in her daughter that Pike never had as a child, when she was picked on for the clothes her mother made her, for her Coke-bottle glasses and long, thick braids, for all the times she would rather have spent curled up with a book or talking with a teacher than socializing with her classmates. “I wanat to teach her to care and be tolerant. Because if you don’t learn that as a kid, you have a whole lifetime for that bullying streak to come to the surface,” she writes.
And in “Objects in Mirror Are More Complex Than They Appear,” Lauren Oliver (‘Before I Fall’) writes that in high school, there were two Laurens: “There was the me as it was created by others, the me who could be comprehended in, and thus reduced to, a sum of facts and stories (Lauren: smart, slutty, mean). Then there was the me as I understood—or, more accurately, didn’t understand—myself. And that me was far blurrier, far less easy to categorize.”
‘Dear Bully’ can be found in hardback and paperbook at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville and Downers Grove and at the Lake County Public Library in Northwest Indiana. Follow a Twitter account based on the book.