Thematic Recs: Bullying (for #AntiBullyReads)

I was initially planning on posting a review today, but (surprise, surprise) I still haven’t finished the book I was hoping to review. 😳 So, instead – and since I’m still in the middle of the Anti-Bullying Readathon, and have therefore been thinking about bullying a lot – I thought I’d bring you another thematic recs list! 🙂 The bullying in all these books is pretty prominent, if not the main focus of the story, but I’ve tried to pick out books that will (I hope) appeal to a variety of different people – and, of course, they’re also some of my favourite books on this topic!

Susan Hill//I'm the King of the Castle1) I’m the King of the Castle by Susan Hill. A chilling story that I first read as a set text in school. I’m the King of the Castle follows a young boy called Hooper, who lives alone with his distant father in a cold, remote house – until his father hires a new housekeeper, who brings her her son, Kingshaw. Resenting Kingshaw’s presence in his home, Hooper proceeds to bully him mercilessly, and the main focus of the story is on the relationship between the two boys.

Fanny Britt & Isabelle Arsenault//Jane, the Fox & Me2) Jane, the Fox & Me by Fanny Britt & Isabelle Arsenault. The story of a girl called Hélène, who is bullied by her former friends because of her weight – and consequently spends her days escaping into books (Jane Eyre specifically). A beautifully drawn and written graphic novel, with an incredibly touching story.

Laurie Halse Anderson//Speak3) Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Another story about being ostracised by people that the main character once called friends. Starting a new year at school, Melinda finds that all her friends are ignoring her, angry that she called the police on a party over the summer. With no one to speak to, she withdraws into her own mind, but that makes it difficult for her to hide from a memory that she’d rather forget – the real reason why she busted that party. Heart-wrenching and incredibly powerful; I’d recommend this book to pretty much anyone.

Jay Asher//13 Reasons Why4) Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. This book is about Hannah, a teenage girl who committed suicide not long before the story begins – before she died, however, she recorded a series of tapes, and posted them out to the people who she held responsible for her death. The story is half-told by Hannah herself, in the form of her tapes, while the other half of the story is told from the perspective of a boy called Clay, who is one of the people who receives them… A unique and fascinating story about how seemingly-small things can have a huge effect on people’s lives.

Rainbow Rowell//Eleanor & Park5) Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. Last but by no means least, one of my favourite books of all time! Eleanor & Park follows two teenagers meeting and falling in love for the first time, and both having to deal with varying degrees of mockery because of that. Eleanor, in particular, faces a lot of bullying – from her awful stepfather, to people at school who make fun of her for her weight. Rowell’s writing is brilliant, and her characters, as always, are spot-on. Highly, highly recommended.

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Thematic Recs: Sad Contemporary

I was actually planning for my main post this week to be a review of Sally Green’s Half Bad, but, alas, I seem to have entered a slight reading slump, & I still haven’t finished it yet… 😦 So I’ve decided to start off a new series of posts that I’ve been planning – thematic recs! They’ll be short lists of books (3-4 each) that I liked, which fit into certain different categories, & some of them will probably be super-specific.

This one was pretty hard to narrow down, as quite a few of my favourite books are sad contemporaries (and there are tonnes more that are also really well done), but here’s four of them to start you off:

Stephen Chbosky//Perks of Being a Wallflower1) The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky follows a teenage boy named Charlie, who is just starting high school and doesn’t really know how to go about making friends. He’s also dealing with some personal issues at the same time, and has actually just got out of hospital when the book starts. The whole book is written as letters, which is something that usually annoys me in novels, but this one is incredibly well done. There was also a film adaptation released quite recently (last year?), and that’s very good, too.

Rainbow Rowell//Eleanor & Park2) Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell is a slow-burning love story between two teenagers (called Eleanor and Park, as I’m sure you could tell), which deals with themes like bullying and domestic abuse. I can’t tell you too much more about it without entering spoiler territory, but it was amazing to read. Also, Rainbow Rowell’s writing is like some kind of drug – every word made me deliriously happy.

Laurie Halse Anderson//Speak3) Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Another one where telling you too much before you start would spoil it slightly, but I can tell you that this is probably the most emotionally hard-hitting of all the books on this list. It follows a girl named Melinda, who’s starting a new year at school, but has for various reasons been abandoned by all her friends. Sarah Dessen’s Just Listen progresses along a similar vein, but is considerably lighter, if Speak is too heavy for you.

Rodman Philbrick//Freak the Mighty4) Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick is probably the most obscure book on this list. It’s about two boys: Max, who is large but slow-learning, and his neighbour Kevin, who is incredibly intelligent but crippled. Both boys have significant problems both at school and at home, and they use their imaginations to escape from it. The  story of their growing friendship is sad but also incredibly touching.