Preller, James. 2009. Bystander. Feiwel and Friends. 226 pages.
The first time Eric Hayes ever saw him, David Hallenback was running, if you could call it that, running in a halting, choppy-stepped, stumpy-legged shamble, slowing down to look back over his shoulder, stumbling forward, pausing to catch his breath, then lurching forward again.
Bystander is a book about bullying. Eric, our narrator, fits strangely into his new school. New and slightly confused, he begins associating with the wrong crowd. Kids he knows to be bullies. Because--at least at first--he's not the target of the bullying, he accepts everything. There are a few instances here and there that make him squirm. But at the same time, it's easy to laugh along with the other kids, the other witnesses or bystanders. As long as the bullying isn't too much--then he's not willing to speak up about it. But there comes a time when it does get to be too much. When what he witnesses makes him so uncomfortable that he wakes up and gets a conscience. But now that he doesn't want to be all buddy-buddy with his former friends, will he become the next target? Will standing up for what he knows to be right lead to his own fall? And can he live with that if it is?
What's a boy to do when so many of the kids around him are bullies? True, not everyone bullies with kicks and punches, but there are so many different ways of bullying. Why does everyone have to be so mean in middle school?
This is more of a message-oriented novel.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
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