Sunday, April 11, 2010

To better understand a community tragedy...

The town of South Hadley, MA, made national news recently with the sad, sad story of a young high school girl from the local high school who committed suicide. It later came out that she had been bullied relentlessly by her peers, both physically & verbally, and even online. Allegedly a number of the bullies even bragged about how miserable they made the poor girl's life. I'm a good 20 years removed from high school myself, and while I never experienced the cruelty that Ms. Phoebe Prince suffered, I recently read a young adult novel that enabled me to relive every taunt, every nasty aside, even the few physical assaults that accompanied me through middle school and high school:

BY THE TIME YOU READ THIS, I’LL BE DEAD by Julie Anne Peters. Daelyn Rice is a girl bullied by her peers and misunderstood by her parents when she discovers a website called Through-the-Light. There she meets other teens who are assigned a “Date of Determination,” a date by which, if their lives do not improve, they plan to commit suicide. Follow Daelyn as the website counts down to her D.O.D and she recalls the endless stream of abuse from her school peers and her "Fat Camp" counselors--abuse that the perpetrators intimidated her not to reveal. This raw, horrifying and tragic book couldn’t come at a more pertinent time to our community, mourning a similar loss. If you think bullying is no big deal, read this book and think again.

~Emily Crowe

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