You would never know from the confident look of the woman sitting at the bookstore table signing books for her fans, that Sage Bush was still trapped in her traumatic childhood. But she was. In Behind Her Name, author Eunice Cooper-Matchett explores, with wonderful story telling, the secretive world of bullying and its devastating effects.
The familiar Canadian setting (small town Alberta), a cast of complex and interesting characters, combined with the author’s exploration of serious themes like bullying, forgiveness, trust, and how to answer the age-old question, why does God allow evil in our lives, are aspects of this well-written book that make it more than just another entertaining tale. Oh, and I loved the unique way the author had Sage handle times of stress and overwhelm—with poetry!
Fans of Christian contemporary romance won’t want to miss this special offering!
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My rating: 5 of 5 stars
When twelve-year-old Kylie, the leader of a posse of bullies, is summoned to the principal’s office of Gold Country Middle School one morning in June (along with her parents, her friends, and their parents), she’s not even nervous. That is, until she sees who else is there. Besides the principal, there is “Gingerbread,” the girl she and her friends have been bullying, and Lydia:
“…the Dwarf. Lydia Somebody. She was a weirdly short woman with too much hair who thought she could come in and stop it all” – Kindle Location 105.
The meeting that day begins a summer like no other for this privileged tween. Grounded from her cell phone and computer, she quickly loses power over Heidi and Riannon. She must also do weekly study sessions with Lydia and satisfactorily complete a project if she is to have any hope of returning to Gold Country and its cheer leading troupe in the fall. Part of the project turns out to be teaching a summer school dance performance number to a half-dozen klutzy elementary-aged girls—a real challenge for someone who is all about coolness and image.
Author Nancy Rue seems well informed about modern methods of bullying. She has the voice of a cocky tween down pat (Kylie tells the story in first-person). As the story unfolds and we work through Kylie’s issues with her, we begin to understand some of bullying’s dynamics. Kylie’s parents, with their permissive and inconsistent parenting style, may be part of the problem. And she also has some well-buried hurts and fears from early childhood that she hasn’t faced. Toward the end of the story Kylie has her own experience of being bullied, helping us experience bullying from both sides and making Sorry—I’m Not Sorry a great choice for pre-teen girls.
The Christian message is subtle. It mostly comes through Lydia who mentions, at one point, how she prays for wisdom before each session with Kylie, and models the listening ear, the love, and the firm direction that helps Kylie go from being a bully ringleader to an ardent member of the “Bullying is so not okay” movement.
I received Sorry—I’m Not Sorry as a gift from the publisher for the purpose of writing a review.
Alone now I am
bullied, bruised, battered
crushed, crying, closed for love.
Don’t look at me.
Facebook friends are fiends.
Go away so I can
hurt myself. I hate myself—
I am an idiot, there is no
justice for me just
more menacing messages.
one, only one
quake my life
shove me into this shower of shame
threats, teasing, telling me I’m
ugly, useless. I’ve never been
what, when, how can I, they call whore
xpose and xterminate this hell I’m in? And
you said, “Why are you still here, you
zit on the face of the earth?”
© 2013 V. Nesdoly
I wrote this poem as a reflection on the too many bullying stories that have come out lately. The special appearance of Carol Todd, Amanda Todd’s mom, at the book launch of one of our poetry society members was the immediate occasion. I was planning to read the poem during the open mic portion of that program but then decided against it. This is, after all, second-hand. I’ve never been bullied like that so don’t really know how it feels and can only imagine.
What breaks my heart most about many of these stories is finding out that after these kids have called out for help (told teachers or parents about the bullying, attempted suicide, shown destructive behaviour) the bullying escalates in an almost animal-inspired way. It reminds me of when I was a kid and we got baby chicks. As those chicks grew, they tended to pick on the weaker, smaller ones, physically pecking at them till they drew blood. Daddy would put a special light bulb in the chick barn so that the red wouldn’t be visible and perhaps they would stop.