This bully-themed anthology stands out in both the breadth of its scope and its tolerance for moral ambiguity.
A distinguished and ethnically diverse set of authors contribute to this volume, which focuses not only on teens who are targets of bullying, but also those who perpetrate it—and many, realistically, do both. Bullying takes many forms, including a teacher ridiculing students, a viral racist email and hazing on a soccer team. The contributors largely delve into bullies' behavior without resting on cliché: David Yoo's unnamed protagonist targets another teen in part because he himself has been bullied, but readers also see the specific incidents and pressures that make his actions, though unforgiveable, more understandable. Most contributors also wisely observe that family dynamics can have as much impact as those at school: James Lecesne's suicidal teen protagonist is called “lezzie” by a classmate, but her mother also snips at her, “Would it kill you to wear a skirt every once in a while?” Overall, however, the book's handling of homophobic bullying is mixed; it is believable that Elizabeth Miles' straight narrator is humiliated by malicious rumors that she is a lesbian, but one wishes the story indicated that being LGBTQ need not be shameful.
For the most part, a diverse, robust collection that looks unflinchingly at cruelty. (Anthology. 12 & up)