Bullying. It’s my belief that no one hears this word without a pang; all of us have stories of being bullied at some point in our lives, and never is it more damaging and hidden than when we are young. Thankfully, positive response to bullying is on the rise, from the It Gets Better Project (an online video project and book reaching out to LGBT youth since 2010), to the documentary Bully (a 2011 film about bullying in U.S. schools), to Everyone’s Beautiful (a teen-run Facebook group that provides a forum for teens to share their stories and find support).
Happily, teen books are keeping up with this trend as well. Two books got top mention when I asked Everyone’s Beautiful for books that stood out to them:
It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living, edited by Dan Savage and Terry Miller
In this collection of essays that expands upon the web site, celebrities and regular folk alike assure teens that although it can be exceptionally hard to be an LGBT youth, there are plenty of reasons to hold on and stay strong. Cole S., founder of Everyone’s Beautiful, writes, “the day i picked up that book, it gave me a vision, it showed me that despite every challenge i had going in my life; i could step away from them and shine for myself, for no one else. It Gets Better, showed me that I am able to be whoever I want, I just had to show courage […] and that eventually; everything will get better.”
13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Clay receives a box containing 13 cassette tapes recorded by his classmate Hannah that detail the reasons leading up to her suicide. Ryan B. writes, “It gives insight into someone’s life, or to be more accurate, death. It shows how each bit in a teenage girl’s life pushed her over the edge, and congregated to become this immutable thought of suicide. It also shows how easily the unnecessary death could have been avoided or prevented. In short, it’s just insightful.”