Bullies come in all shapes and sizes and sometimes we forget that. Some of our adult library patrons are bullies and we hesitate standing up to them. So imagine how a high schooler who has been subjected to bullying for years might feel. Well, Jesse Larsen was one such teen and he did something about it that affected himself, his family, his school and his community.
In the aftermath if IT, as Henry K. Larsen refers to it in his Reluctant Journal (only written because his therapist suggested it might help), Henry explains how everyone feels and the lasting impact of his brother’s murder/suicide at the local high school. One parent won’t talk about it. The other parent is hospitalized for depresssion. Henry’s best friend, the sister of the bully, isn’t allowed to talk to him any more. Friends stopped being friends and instead became antagonistic. There are feelings of guilt. Another consequence: Henry’s family crumbled. He and his father moved to a new city where Henry could/had to start over again making friends, dealing with the tragedy.
The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen is another entry on the important topic of bullying. Henry is only a high school freshman. He’s a little chubby and nerdy. Of course, cliques are already established at school and he, unavoidably, joins the geek clique…which is subject to bullying. Susin Nielson has written for such TV series as DiGrassi and knows how to reach the middle school/lower high school audience. The characters, although somewhat stereotypical, are ones you root for (at least the good guys). The dilemma of “telling a parent or teacher” is touched on. The feelings of guilt are a major factor in the book. Whose fault are these tragedies?
In the instant news world we live in, it seems like every minute there’s a news article on Yahoo or Facebook or Twitter about bullying. I’m sure we all know some family that has been affected by bullying. I don’t think there can ever be enough good books on the subject and The Reluctant Jouranl of Henry K. Larsen, winner of the Canada Council for the Arts Governor General’s Literary Award, joins a growing list of worthwhile books on a difficult subject.