Jerry is bullied at school. Pretty severely, in fact, just because he wears glasses. But his short-sightedness gives him a different view point on the world and allows him to overcome this horror-story of secondary school.
Having been a victim of bullying myself, I could completely sympathise with Jerry's feelings of fear and anger, and I really do commend him on how he handles it. Although he has a low moment of lashing out, Gardiner writes Jerry to have the strength to take the higher ground and report it to a teacher. Of course, much like at my school, not much is done until Jerry himself gets creative. I loved how Jerry handled himself and tried so many ways of getting the bullies off his back; some were funny, others very effective, but some were just bad. But in the end, Jerry does really well for himself and his school by beating the bullies and helping to create a better atmosphere of zero-tolerance.
It was the characters that really built this book. Jerry interacts with a myriad of amazing and brave characters, like Mr Finn, the deputy headteacher with the strength to carry out anti-bullying ideas; Jerry's love interest Mindy, who was adorable and smart; Silu and Matt, Jerry's friends who stick with him, even when it doesn't seem like it. Then there was Wayno and his gang were just awful; violent, racist, rude, jeez I could completely understand students and teachers alike hatred of them.
What I really liked about this book was how Gardiner tackled not just bullying but the reasons behind it. It is a common thought that bullies bully because they are victims in another part of their life. And I think Jerry realising this about Wayno was an important part in both Jerry dealing with his fear and Wayno realising the error of his ways. It does take a while but they all get there, and I loved how the whole school got behind Jerry's anti-bullying ideas. Because it is a big problem and it takes a whole force to deal with. Most importantly, as it is Anti-Bullying Week, what this book reinforces is that no-one should go through it alone.
Published 14th December 2012 by Crooked Cat Publishing. Thank you to the author for a copy in exchange for an honest review.