Tag Archives: Australia

Are Bullies Here? Part IV

bully-infographicThis month we first discussed what bullying is, then we discussed how to recover from or prevent bullying, and last week we discussed what to do if you see someone being bullied.
It seems like everyone wants to be unique and create their own stamp on the world. On the other hand, many people have a hard time embracing the wide variety of “different” characteristics and beliefs that make people unique. I recently read the speech author Lois Lowry gave when accepting the Newbury Award in 1994 for The Giver. Her take on “sameness” bringing comfort and how her college roommates shunned a girl because she wasn’t the same as them is certainly thought provoking.
Here are stories about teens who have been bullied because of their unique circumstances:
  • The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk – When Will Halpin transfers from his all-deaf school into a mainstream Pennsylvania high school, he faces discrimination and bullying, but still manages to solve a mystery surrounding the death of a popular football player in his class.
  • Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah – Year Eleven at an exclusive prep school in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia, would be tough enough, but it is further complicated for Amal when she decides to wear the hijab, the Muslim head scarf, full-time as a badge of her faith–without losing her identity or sense of style.
  • The Skin I’m In by Sharon Flake – 13-year-old Maleeka, uncomfortable because her skin is extremely dark, meets a new teacher with a birthmark on her face and discovers how to love who she is and what she looks like.
  • Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli – In this story about the perils of popularity, the courage of nonconformity, and the thrill of first love, an eccentric student named Stargirl changes Mica High School forever.
  • Empty by K. M. Walton – Deeply depressed after her father cheated on and divorced her mother, seventeen-year-old Adele has gained over seventy pounds and is being bullied and abused at school.
  • The Absolutely True Diary of A Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie – Budding cartoonist Junior leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.
  • Diary of a Witness by Catherine Ryan Hyde – Ernie, an overweight high school student and long-time target of bullies, relies on his best friend Will to watch his back until Will, overwhelmed by problems at home and guilt over his brother’s death, seeks a final solution.
  • It Gets Better: Coming out, overcoming bullying, and creating a life worth living – A collection of original essays and expanded testimonials written to teens from celebrities, political leaders, and everyday people.
This list of books can be found on a list of swtteen’s profile called: Bullying, unique circumstances.

Cracking the Hub: Love and Other Perishable Items

Hub Reading ChallengeI’ve been reading steadily through The Hub Challenge.  I just finished my eleventh book, Love and Other Perishable Items, by Laura Buzo.

Love and Other Perishable Items was nominated for the Morris Award – which honors a book written for young adults by a previously unpublished author.  Readers are introduced to fifteen-year-old Amelia as she 1) starts her first job and 2) starts crushing on her unattainable university-aged coworker, Chris.  Amelia and Chris are both searching for meaning in their lives.  Amelia is infatuated with Chris and doesn’t stop thinking about him, but there is much about Chris that she doesn’t know.  In Chris’s diary entries we learn more about him: his crushing depression, despondency, self-medication with drugs and alcohol, and Amelia is barely mentioned.
 
I liked how the author switched perspectives and writing styles in this novel.  After all, don’t most people want to know what’s really going on in the minds of the person they’re crushing on?  There are a lot of adult situations regarding drugs, alcohol, and sexual situations in this book – I’m not sure if this is because of cultural differences between the U.S. and Australia, or just the world the author wished to create for the story.  It also bothered me that the Amelia’s parents are pretty much absent from her life.  This becomes a fairly important plot point in the novel.
 
What do you think – where are all the parents in YA lit, and does this story read like something that should be published for adults or teens?
 

Book Shorts: Jasper Jones

Jasper Jones

Title:  Jasper Jones

Author:  Craig Silvey

Summary:  In small-town Australia, teens Jasper and Charlie form an unlikely friendship when one asks the other to help him cover up a murder until they can prove who is responsible.

I started reading it because… it was on some “Best of 2011” list, so I ordered it.

I kept reading because… it was a thriller with some depth.

The setting is unique and so cool–1960s small-town Australia. It set the tone for the chilling, gossipy, racist locals and how Jasper Jones could be so misunderstood.
 
I read it all night and recommended it to friends when I was done.

Main character(s): If they were in a yearbook, they would be voted Most Likely To: be accused of a crime that they didn’t commit.

Six Word Recap:  Aussie town thriller with forbidden peaches.

This book reminded me of To Kill a Mockingbird because… of the small town, racist folk dealing with a horrific crime.  In Jasper Jones, the main character refers to a lot of Western classic books and he compares his dad to Atticus Fitch.

How great is it?:  Jasper Jones got starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews, Horn Book, and School Library Journal. It is a 2011 Michael L. Printz Honor book.

So it’s not just me that liked it… a lot of fancy book reviewers did too.  🙂