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Bystander Hardcover – September 29, 2009

72 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 6–9—Eric Hayes has moved from Ohio to Long Island, NY, with his mother and younger brother. His schizophrenic father left long ago. Eric soon meets Griffin Connelly, a handsome kid with natural leadership, lots of charisma, and a real mean streak. While Griffin is the perfect bully, David Hallenback is the perfect victim: beaten down and willing to do anything to get Griffin's approval. At first, Eric is a bystander, not participating in the bullying but not doing anything to stop it. However, several events move him out of this passive role: Griffin steals from him and reveals Eric's confidences about his father; adults at school address bullying; and Mary, a girl he likes, takes a stand against it. Eric realizes that his silence makes him complicit and speaks out, only to become Griffin's next victim. Preller has perfectly nailed the middle school milieu, and his characters are well developed with authentic voices. The novel has a parablelike quality, steeped in a moral lesson, yet not ploddingly didactic. The action moves quickly, keeping readers engaged. The ending is realistic: there's no strong resolution, no punishment or forgiveness. Focusing on the large majority of young people who stand by mutely and therefore complicitly, this must-read book is a great discussion starter that pairs well with a Holocaust unit.—Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME
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Review

Preller has perfectly nailed the middle school milieu, and his characters are well developed with authentic voices. The novel has a parablelike quality, steeped in a moral lesson, yet not ploddingly didactic. The action moves quickly, keeping readers engaged. The ending is realistic: there's no strong resolution, no punishment or forgiveness. Focusing on the large majority of young people who stand by mutely and therefore complicitly, this must-read book is a great discussion starter that pairs well with a Holocaust unit. (School Library Journal, starred review)

Bullying is a topic that never lacks for interest, and here Preller concentrates on the kids who try to ignore or accommodate a bully to keep themselves safe. For Eric to do the right thing is neither easy nor what he first wants to do, and the way he finds support among his classmates is shown in logical and believable small steps. Eminently discussable as a middle-school read-aloud, [with] appeal across gender lines. (Kirkus Reviews)

Preller displays a keen awareness of the complicated and often-conflicting instincts to fit in, find friends, and do the right thing. Although there are no pat answers, the message (that a bystander is hardly better than an instigator) is clear, and Preller's well-shaped characters, strong writing, and realistic treatment of middle-school life deliver it cleanly. (Booklist)

Plenty of kids will see themselves in these pages, making for painful, if important, reading. (Publishers Weekly)

An easy pick for middle school classroom and school libraries, this book is a worthy addition to collections focused on bullying and larger public libraries, especially those with an active younger teen population. (VOYA)
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 600L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Feiwel & Friends; First Edition edition (September 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312379064
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312379063
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #301,905 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Steil on October 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I know I've found a good book when I hit the end of a chapter and just have to read on. Bystander is a real page turner. Whether you're a teen, a teacher, or a parent, reading this book will remind you how important it is to have a no-tolerance view of bullying. It is so easy to tell a teen to "ignore" the bully. But as Eric Hayes experienced, it's not that easy. Especially when you're trying to fit in.

Bystander is filled with suspense. From the first chapter, when Eric sees David Hallenback running scared across the basketball court, to the end it is hard to put the book down. Teens will connect with the situations and characters and this will surely open up conversations about what's right and what's wrong.
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Format: Hardcover
As educators, we are always looking for a sure thing; something you know will work. When we find it, we need to shout it from the roof tops! So, I shout, "Here it is! Find this, buy this, read it to your class, share it with your teacher friends. Read it with kids. Make sure kids read it!"

If the true job of literature is to help us understand the human condition, pick this up, read it and discuss it! Discuss it with any child availalble for learning. Work on reading comprehension, bullying prevention/intervention with this very real, very relevant, very important read on a very real, very relevant, very important topic. Educators everywhere will be applauding Mr. Preller's efforts efforts on this one!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Ball on October 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Bystander is a great read for middle schoolers, their parents and their teachers. Boys and girls will find characters in it that they relate to, and the issues that are raised will give them a lot to talk about.

Eric Hayes, like any new kid in town, is worried about finding his place and fitting in. From the first page, you feel the tension of Eric's struggle to make new friends and avoid trouble. And the main source of tension comes from Griffin Connelly, a scheming, manipulative bully. Unlike the stereotypical dimwitted bully, Preller makes Griffin believable, and therefore, all the more frightening - he's a popular seventh grader at Bellport Central Middle School. The plot has plenty of twists and turns as it follows Eric through the difficult first few months at his new school. Young readers will love this book, placing themselves in it scene by scene, wondering what they'd do if they were Eric.

Preller has got kids down. He knows how they think, how they talk, how they maneuver through the challenges and confusions of middle school life. Kids will love the humor that runs through the realistic dialogue and school scenes, even as they feel the tension that comes along with being a target, a bystander, or a bully.

An important and timely topic - this book should hit a big public nerve.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mahalo on July 30, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was required reading for my 5th grader daughter. It gets the information across, but it is not an easy read. The text is choppy and does not flow well. It is a better choice for boys that for girls. Girls bully differently than boys and the only girl in this book has a very limited role.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By murphy on August 16, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was going to teach this book as part of a seventh grade lesson on bullying. But with the words "ass" and "Jesus H. Christ" I changed my mind. I didn't feel any real life lessons are learned by reading this story.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Johanna Freivalds on October 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
When it comes to bullying, if you aren't part of the solution you're often part of the problem. Bystander is a decent story about a group of teens influenced by a bright, manipulative kid, who judging from a outward appearances is a leader among his peers. The story explores the topic of what it feels like to be the "new kid" in school and how weighty the decisions one makes to fit in can be. Also examined is what being the victim of a bully looks and feels like. The descriptions from the victims point-of-view or about victims are hard to read at times because even the youngest readers will be able to identify with the anger,fear and desperation portrayed by these victims.

Although the story is well told in a straightforward fashion, (making it a good choice for many younger teens)at times I felt like I was reading a "lesson" about bullying, rather than a truly engaging story about teens caught up in bully situation which lessened my appreciation of the book. Additionally, I'm not sure how much the author's addition of a secondary storyline about Eric's father's mental illness and being an absentee parent added to the overall storyline.

All in all, a pretty fair read about an important topic, I just wish it had hooked me more emotionally.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By E. Howland on June 27, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I asked her what she thought and she said "I really like it". She is about 25% of the way through it. Apparently it's pretty involved and she talked about the teacher wanted them to take notes for class next year. She is going to finish reading it later in the summer (as well as take notes) and switch to some lighter reading for the summer, but has liked it so far!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Shopping Mom on September 15, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lots of news and stories about bullies. This novel brings to light the importance of the bystander, those that look on, stand to the side and choose to NOT act. It raises the question as to whether or not these bystanders also have some responsibility to act in a situation on bullying. Good book club title for adolescents.
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