Sunday 19 August 2018


Finished August 17
Bullyville by Francine Prose

This novel follows Bart Rangely's year of eighth grade. Bart lived with his parents in the commuter town of Hillbrook, New Jersey, and he'd started grade eight more or less normally. But a few months before, Bart's dad had moved out to live with his girlfriend, and Bart and his mom were trying to go on as normally as possible. That means that his mom hadn't told anyone that his dad had left, just saying he was really busy. And so Bart never told anyone either. It was just easier. But then Bart stayed home from school with the flu, and his mom stayed home to look after him, and it was September 11, 2001. And Bart's dad died.
Bart and his mom got a lot of news coverage, and got treated as a feel good story, but Bart doesn't feel good. He's lost his dad, now for good, and that makes him feel awful. And his friends don't seem to know how to talk to him anymore. So when an offer gets made from the local boys prep school, his mom thinks it is a great opportunity. As much as he fights it, telling her all the rumours about the school, how instead of being called Baileyville, locals call it Bullyville, and how it is supposed to be a horrible place, he agrees to go.
And it is even worse than he expected. He is paired with a Big Brother, a junior named Tyro. At orientation, Tyro seems cold and disinterested, but after Bart starts, he turns into a bully, and he has a team of boys assisting him in treating Bart to a series of torments. Bart knows he isn't the only one being bullied, but he still doesn't seem able to make friends. So he tries to suck it up and pretend for his mother's sake, until finally he can't anymore.
This is a sad story, of how one family can use privilege and weath to itake away consequences of their actions. It is a story of empathy, and the lack of it, and how everything doesn't always work out, and people don't always show their good sides in the end. An interesting story. 

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