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Alluring Reads

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The Bully Book: A Novel

The Bully Book - Eric Kahn Gale You can read all of my reviews at Alluring Reads. “I don’t like being me anymore. When I write “anymore” it makes it seem that there was a time I did like being myself. But that’s not what I’m saying. It’s not like I was this kid who looked in the mirror every morning and shouted, “I love myself, and it’s gonna be a great day.” Instead I thought, I want Cheerios for breakfast. I didn’t think about me at all. And I never thought about liking myself or not.” -quoted from an unfinished ARCIt’s books like this that make me wonder why I don’t read more middle grade novels. They always scare me; I worry that they will be too pretty and too cheesy but The Bully Book surprised me in the best way possible. We meet Eric Haskins who is just starting the 6th grade. He’s pretty excited to be at the top of his school, but is shut down pretty quick when a boy who was his best friend comes in and gives him the coldest shoulder ever. From there, things go downhill. Eric realizes that he has been deemed the Grunt and that the three popular boys of the class are out to make his 6th grade year a living hell. Eric sets out on a mission to figure out why he is the Grunt and just what exactly that is. He uncovers a decades long mystery and finds out some surprising people are at play. “Stop making fun of Colin. It makes you sound like an idiot. And stop calling people gay. I don’t even know why that’s an insult. There are real gay people in the world, you know, and there’s nothing wrong with them. Calling someone gay, like it’s a bad thing, is like calling someone a dentist – it doesn’t make any sense!” - quoted from an unfinished ARCI really liked Eric. He didn’t just sit back and accept that he was being bullied. He actively set out on a mission to find out exactly what was going on and he never gave up. I also liked how even though these boys were being terrible to him he never lashed out and lost his cool, he always seemed to have a pretty level head about things. Eric didn’t have many friends in his life but Melody was there for him as much as possible. She was a sassy girl who wasn’t afraid to stand up for Eric, which was refreshing. As the story wore on she made some terrible decisions that had me wanting to scold her, and that just felt very out of character for her, which was a bit of a let down. Being a middle grade novel, there isn’t much romance to be had. There are little crushes and Eric often talks about his feelings. I thought all of it was handled really well and felt quite realistic for the age group. They weren’t having emotions that were too old for them, which was perfect. Friendship is really at the heart of the story and as the story unfolds, Eric learns a lot about friendship. The Bully Book is an everyday tale told in the form of a mystery. I really enjoyed the format of the novel, we get Eric’s journal entries and between the entries we get to read pages from The Book. It felt like we were seeing both sides of the story as we saw what was happening to Eric and the instructions that The Book gave to the readers. I think Gale’s decision to throw in the mystery was a fantastic idea that let readers feel like they weren’t just reading a depressing story about bullying. For a MG novel with a mere 240 pages this novel packs quite a punch. Seeing the quotes at the beginning from kids and teachers who have read this story was great and I think that kids heading into Junior High should definitely read this book!