Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bystander - James Preller

Synopsis from B&N:  Eric is the new kid in seventh grade. Griffin wants to be his friend. When you’re new in town, it’s hard to know who to hang out with—and who to avoid. Griffin seems cool, confident, and popular.  But something isn’t right about Griffin. He always seems to be in the middle of bad things. And if Griffin doesn't like you, you’d better watch your back. There might be a target on it.

As Eric gets drawn deeper into Griffin’s dark world, he begins to see the truth about Griffin: He’s a liar, a bully, a thief. Eric wants to break away, do the right thing. But in one shocking moment, he goes from being a bystander . . . to the bully’s next victim.

Starting third quarter, we will be reading through this book with our Advisory classes.  So I figured I should probably read it first.  And I was pretty impressed with this.

Preller doesn’t take a one-dimensional approach to his bully characters.  They are complicated, just like real people and real life are.  You feel sorry for Eric.  And mad at Eric.  And mad a Griffin.  And a little bit sorry for him too. 

I also like that he tackles the bystander issue as well.  Some people are outright bullies.  But it is just as wrong (and contributes to bullying) when others stand around and do nothing.

And there is no true and final conclusion.  Because, again, bullying in real life just isn’t like that. 

I think that it is a great approach that looks at all angles of the “bullying problem”.  I see a lot of potential for good dialogue with the students in class. 


  1. Thanks for those comments, much appreciated. Rather than no "true and final" conclusion, though, I'd like to think that I refused to wrap it up in a tidy bow, ala Disney, and tried instead to keep it realistic. For most of us in these situations, we don't necessarily get "closure," we just . . . get . . . through.

    Thanks for reading my book and taking the time to write about it here.

  2. Mr. Preller - Thanks for your comment. And I like how you put that...no closure, people just get through those situations. I think that's an excellent way of putting it.
    And, for what it's worth, my co-teacher and I have started reading Bystander with our 6th - 8th grade Advisory class. They are really getting into it and were sad when we did a different activity one day this past week. It's resonating with them.