A wise and levelheaded look at cyberbullying and some possible remedies.

CYBERBULLYING CRASH COURSE

PROTECT YOUR KIDS FROM CYBERBULLIES, CYBER VIOLENCE, AND DIGITAL PEER PRESSURE

A wide-ranging manual focuses on the world of cyberbullying.

When bullying happens to somebody in person, writes Beam at the outset of his compact nonfiction debut, it’s fairly obvious. A fight erupts between children in a schoolyard; the kids are separated and brought to the principal’s office; the matter is quickly sorted out; and the bully is cautioned or punished. But cyberbullying leaves no traces, the author points out, and it’s far from being merely a childhood problem. “Plenty of adults are cyberbullied through dating apps, chat rooms, social media threads, and the posting of unwanted content, like in photo extortion,” he writes. “This problem does not just stop at cyberbullying; it also extends to cyberhate, where people are targeted because of their religious belief, skin color, sexual orientation, or political views.” In other words, everyone lives every day in an environment fraught with many forms of cyberbullying, and Beam’s book provides a wide-angle overview of some of the most prevalent forms it can take in the modern age. These range from the rise of online sexual predators “catfishing” students and young people online to cyber-harassment designed to “target, embarrass, and silence the victim.” The author notes that new advances in technology make virtually every aspect of cyberbullying both easier and more pervasive: “The sky is the limit” for things like online impersonation. But even older forms of online activity can be enlisted for bullying, as when individuals make a website intended “to aggregate everything they want to share with the public, ensuring the target is completely embarrassed.”

In all such cases, Beam tends to favor straightforward, common-sense advice. When it comes to pirated photo manipulation, for instance, he advises that people never send “sensitive content” to anybody (even a trusted friend) that they wouldn’t want broadcast to the entire world—a sound rule for all aspects of online dealings. The book’s organizing message, aimed at parents and teachers, details all the clues that may point to children or teens being cyberbullied (excessively hiding their phones, indulging in sudden and unexplained bursts of anger, withdrawing from families—all signs that they’re concealing something that’s troubling and embarrassing them). Beam underscores the deadly urgency of such pressures by reminding his adult readers that cyberbullying can happen to anybody and that it can quickly create very dark feelings of rage and helplessness in its victims—feelings that can push even a seemingly self-confident young person to despair and perhaps thoughts of revenge or suicide. For all of this, Beam offers some simple correctives: privatize online accounts, set internet times and enforce them, bolster self-esteem in kids and teens by “encouraging their passions (even if they deviate from your idea of cool).” The author quite rightly emphasizes the crucial importance of teaching children empathy, and the advice given here will help greatly with that. Anyone who has ever dealt with cyberbullying will find useful insights in these pages.

A wise and levelheaded look at cyberbullying and some possible remedies.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73426-732-7

Page Count: 74

Publisher: Beam Reach Ventures

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY

Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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An engaging childhood memoir and a deeply affectionate tribute to the author’s parents.

THIS TIME NEXT YEAR WE'LL BE LAUGHING

The bestselling author recalls her childhood and her family’s wartime experiences.

Readers of Winspear’s popular Maisie Dobbs mystery series appreciate the London investigator’s canny resourcefulness and underlying humanity as she solves her many cases. Yet Dobbs had to overcome plenty of hardships in her ascent from her working-class roots. Part of the appeal of Winspear’s Dobbs series are the descriptions of London and the English countryside, featuring vividly drawn particulars that feel like they were written with firsthand knowledge of that era. In her first book of nonfiction, the author sheds light on the inspiration for Dobbs and her stories as she reflects on her upbringing during the 1950s and ’60s. She focuses much attention on her parents’ lives and their struggles supporting a family, as they chose to live far removed from their London pasts. “My parents left the bombsites and memories of wartime London for an openness they found in the country and on the land,” writes Winspear. As she recounts, each of her parents often had to work multiple jobs, which inspired the author’s own initiative, a trait she would apply to the Dobbs character. Her parents recalled grueling wartime experiences as well as stories of the severe battlefield injuries that left her grandfather shell-shocked. “My mother’s history,” she writes, “became my history—probably because I was young when she began telling me….Looking back, her stories—of war, of abuse at the hands of the people to whom she and her sisters had been billeted when evacuated from London, of seeing the dead following a bombing—were probably too graphic for a child. But I liked listening to them.” Winspear also draws distinctive portraits of postwar England, altogether different from the U.S., where she has since settled, and her unsettling struggles within the rigid British class system.

An engaging childhood memoir and a deeply affectionate tribute to the author’s parents.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64129-269-6

Page Count: 314

Publisher: Soho

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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