Review: Bystander

Bystander Bystander by James Preller
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As a middle school teacher, I deal with issues of bullying on a regular basis. Often, bullying continues because bystanders refuse to intervene or report it, but the power of the bystander is one of the hardest messages to get across to students.

I really loved the idea of this book and I think that Preller did a really good job of developing believable characters and realistic conflict for the first three-quarters of the book. I was disappointed in the story’s resolution. I had hoped that the protagonist, Eric, would have taken the higher ground instead of acting like the bully himself.

While Eric does begin to question certain behaviors of his own and his friends, I wish he had gone further. I don't deny that bullying is a complicated issue, but I feel like this book falls a little short of its potential. Nevertheless, I do think that it can be used to generate a good discussion on the issue and I am considering using it as part of my social justice unit with my students.

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