Have you ever read a book that really ticked you off? I just did. It’s called Random by Tom Leveen. If you’re curious, you can read it for free through Friday on Simon PulseIt. I was intrigued by the premise: a girl who is about to be sentenced for cyber bullying a teen who committed suicide gets a random phone call from someone claiming that they’re about to kill themselves. The entire story takes place in that one night before the trial, as she tries to talk the stranger out of taking his own life.
Here’s the problem that I had: it’s really really hard to make the reader sympathize with a bully, and Leveen utterly failed at it. As late as the next to last chapter, the main character was denying responsibility for what she did. She came across as nothing more than a spoiled, clueless little word-that-rhymes-with-witch. (I try not to curse on this blog.) I didn’t give a flying fig what happened to her. Her victim’s story is played out in little flashback snippets from Facebook and text messages.
I don’t want the focus on the bully. That gives their actions too much credence. I want to see focus on the victim. I don’t care a bit if the bully learns a lesson. That’s not the point. The point is that bullying happens and it needs to be stopped.
You may be thinking that books like this are good because they challenge the reader. Well, in my opinion, the victims of bullying get challenged enough as it is, and too often the bullies get sympathy when they have to take responsibility for their action. So while I appreciate what Leveen was trying to do, it’s not something that I think needs to be done; and, along with that, he didn’t do a good job at it anyway.
Any thoughts? Leave me a comment!